Richard L. Church Jr. ’53

Richard L. Church Jr. ’53, emeritus professor of business at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, died May 30, 2014, at his home in Southwest Harbor. He was born in St. Johnsbury, Vt., on August 12, 1931, and graduated from Kennett High School in Conway, N.H., where he won several state championships in alpine skiing, jumping and cross-country. The straight-tucking downhill event was his favorite. On the baseball team, he was a hard-hitting shortstop, and in football, he quarterbacked a state championship team. At Bowdoin, he was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity, captained the ski team and won the first alpine race ever held at Sugarloaf: the Schuss, a one-mile downhill event on a narrow trail in which competitors hiked up the mountain. After earning a masters degree in business administration at Boston University in 1962, he taught business at Sheldon Jackson Junior College in Sitka, Alaska, then for two decades at Plymouth State University, where students repeatedly voted him Teacher of the Year. When he retired, he established a small accounting firm in Southwest Harbor. Around age 40, he began running and cross-country skiing, and marathon running became his main focus. He excelled in multiple events, including the Boston, New York and Montreal marathons, recording his best time of 2:49 at age 50. His favorite running event was the Mount Washington Road Race, a steep, 7.6-mile uphill, in which he held an age-group record for several years. He ran a few 50-mile ultra-marathons in his 60s and ran nearly every day year-round until his late 70s. He went blind at the age of 77, and gracefully turned that challenge into an opportunity to grow and learn in new ways. He listened daily to Maine Public Radio and was an avid user of the Maine State Library’s Talking Books program. He was an Army veteran, a longtime member and treasurer of the MDI Lions Club and a member of the Acadia Friends Meeting. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Jan Church; sons Jim and Jeff Church; daughters Suzanne and Stephanie Church, and five grandchildren. He was predeceased in 1983 by his teenage son, John Church, and in April 2014 by his brother, Bob Church.

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