A photo of Richard Frederick Gays

Richard Frederick Gays

Richard Frederick Gays, age 76, of Newark, DE, passed away gently in the early morning of Friday, December 25, 2020, from complications of Alzheimers, wrapped in the love of his family and friends. “Santa needed a wingman and Richard naturally was the first to volunteer”, suggested a dear friend.

He was born in Milwaukee, WI in 1944, and was a son of the late Thomas and Dorothy (Vierheilig) Gays. Richard graduated from Hammond High School in Alexandria, VA in 1962 and from the former Campbell College, now Campbell University, in 1966. He received his teaching certification from Lenore-Rhyne College and a master’s degree from the University of California Northridge.

Richard spent 45 years serving deaf and hard of hearing children in various capacities; as a teacher at the Maryland School for the Deaf, administrator at Delaware School for the Deaf, Dean of Students at the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, CT and as Director of Instruction at the Scranton State School for the Deaf. For the past 30 years until retirement, he served as the Statewide Coordinator of Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children for the state of Delaware. Richard loved traveling all over the state visiting schools and families and knew every back road and diner in Delaware.

He is survived by his devoted wife of 45 years, Susan Hilton Gays; sons, Christopher (Kimberlee) and Robert; brother, Wann (Irene); grandchildren, Camryn and Ben; in-laws, Bill Hilton (Colleen), Margaret Cloutier (Jim) and Peter Hess (Mary), 12 nieces and nephews; and several great nieces and nephews.

Richard will be remembered for his twinkling blue eyes, his love of a good prank and his boundless curiosity. Service to others was his life, and he could be depended on to volunteer for anything; serving on the boards of Delaware Association of School Administrators, the Newark Senior Center, Kirkwood Soccer Club, Nottingham Swim Club and the Newark Area Welfare Committee, to name a few. Richard could also be found dishing out corn at Hope Dining Room or shoveling out the entire neighborhood after winter snowstorms. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for a friend or a stranger in need. 

The family wishes thank the wonderful team from Home Instead Senior Care, especially Doris, Connie, and Anthony, for the exceptional care they provided Richard until the end. We could not have managed without them.

A celebration of Richard’s life will be held at a time when it is safe to gather. In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made in his memory to the Newark Senior Center, 200 Whitechapel Drive, Newark, DE 19713 or to the Newark Area Welfare Committee, P.O. Box 951, Newark, DE 19715. Or, please do something for someone in need. 

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33 Condolences for Richard Frederick Gays

  • Richard was truly a special person and he will be missed by everyone who knew him. Our thoughts are with Susan, Chris, and Robbie.

  • Susan, I am so sorry to hear of Richard’s passing. My prayers are with you and your boys!

  • Your father was truly a man who bestowed the meaning of kindness, dedication, and love. To Susan, Chris, and Robbie, my everlasting love to you all.

  • Sending lots of love to Susan, Robbie and Chris. I feel very fortunate to have grown up around the kindness and support of Richard. He was always such a kind and caring person to all the kids in the neighborhood.

  • Dearest Susan, our hearts and prayers are with you and the boys as we join you in spirit to celebrate Richard’s life this week. He made such an impact on us, in a very short period of time on your visits to Michigan and for the Work family celebrations. Thank you for capturing his deep commitment to serving others – well said! We can all aspire to pay it forward in his honor and think outside ourselves. He will be missed. Much love to you all!! Kelly and Susan Hadlich (and girls)

  • Susan I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ll always remember Richard as a good man with a smile, a joke and a helping hand. Grief takes many forms and has no time line. Please take whatever time that you need to get through this difficult time.

  • I’ll miss his laughter on the deck in Maine. Looking forward to toasting his life with Susan.

  • Susan, Rich and I were so sad to hear about your losing Richard. He was the first person we met when we found out Maddie was Deaf…what a shining light he was for parents like us who didn’t know what to do next. We will always remember that. He was always helpful, kind and a friendly face to see at school. Our sincerest condolences to you and your family. We know he left a lasting mark on many families and we will always be grateful for that and think of him fondly.

  • A fine man. RIP, Rich.

  • Dear Susan and family, Kathy and I are very sorry for your loss. Richard was such a special person and great friend.
    He will be missed,
    John and Kathy Fosdick

  • My condolences to you, Susan and family. I can understand the bittersweet nature of losing someone who was wonderful but was suffering. Former students and staff alike from Sterck School/DSD remember Richard for his fun-loving spirit and pleasant personality. My favorite was when he played the Old Man at pep rallies!

  • Dear Sue,

    Our daughter, Joyce Gairns Wood, sent us Dick’s obituary. Our memories of you both go back a long way. I hope you are finding comfort in the good memories you must have of your long life together. Our thoughts are with you during this challenging time.

    Peace and good health, Bonnie and Jack Fairchild

  • Sorry for your loss. I loved my time at Sterck School. Dick was the first person Rick and I went to after we decided to get married. I needed to get my job back. May God Be with you and your family. Rick and Sandie Houtz

  • My life was blessed and changed by this wonderful man. The world has lost an angel among us. His ability to accept, to help, to support was unending. I miss my buddy but I am glad he now rests in peace. He left a legacy to be proud of.

  • Susan
    Hold your memories close and visit them often. Dick was loved by many including me. Words just do not adequately convey how I am feeling. Love to you and the boys
    Sally and Bob

  • So sorry to hear of Richard’s passing. I knew him for most of his 30 plus years serving and supporting Delaware students. He was truly a kind and caring person/ friend with significant expertise in deaf education.
    Condolences to his family. May he Rest In Peace.

  • Rich was a real gentleman, a wonderful person, and a soccer coach who truly knew the meaning of good sportsmanship. He will be sorely missed by many in the Newark area community. Our thoughts and prayers to all of his family.

  • Susan,
    Richard always livened up the room and made the work go faster. Newark is a better place because you and he were always there to help out. Our thoughts are with you.

  • One of the most kindest, funniest sincere men I have ever met in my life. There was nothing not to like about Rich! Always had a kind word for everyone. He taught me so much when I was a young parent of a deaf child. Rest easy my friend. May your memory be eternal. We had many stories together. My deepest sympathies to you Sue and your family.

  • My condolences to Sue and sons. Rich was pretty awesome gentleman, always made me crack a smile every time we talk in hallways of DSD. Such a kind hearted man, may he remain in our hearts forever. Rest easy.

  • Susan,
    So sorry to hear of richards passing, he and I always had such a great time together.
    Gene. Dee niland

  • Sue, we are so sad to learn of the passing of your beloved husband Richard whose smile will never leave us. What a wonderful man Richard was and a marvelous husband and father. Sue, you have to be the best wife ever and our heartfelt prayers and love go out to you this day and every day. God Bless you and your family, Naomi and Matthew

  • Sue, Chris & Rob, I so enjoyed his humor and good spirit. This was especially when I called him Clifford, after the perfect costume for him worn in the annual Newark Halloween parade. So sorry for your and the community’s loss.

  • Richard was a very kind and loving person ready for a good laugh with a twinkle in his eye. We are very sorry for your loss, Susan, Chris and Robbie. We will always remember him and all he has done for the community in Delaware, of course with a chuckle! We love you and wish you a sense of peace and love, Susan. With love, Debbie, Ursula, Cal and Cade

  • Susan & Family
    Please except our heart felt condolences for the loss of Richard. It was a treat to meet him and share some time together God bless and may he rest in peace.
    Skip & Sally Saenger
    Santa Barbara, California

  • Among his many positive traits, we remember Rich especially for his witty, sense of humor. When you listened closely to his comments, they always conveyed a positive message reflective of both that of an outstanding educator but for sure, one really fine person. Rich with a gentle touch, filled in those pieces to help us grapple with the impact of deafness on our family. As with us, may the memories of his life support Susan and family in the days ahead. In our thoughts and prayers.

  • I am so sorry to find out about the passing of Richard. He is now resting in peace. Thoughts are with you (Susan) and your family!

  • My heart goes out to you and your boys and their families. Dick was a joy to know and be around with his infectious smile and twinkling blue eyes! Your ongoing loving care was an inspiration to me and to anyone who becomes a caregiver for a spouse way too soon!! Loving thoughts from The Garrison Family

  • Dear Mrs. Gays and family,
    I was so sorry to hear of the passing of Mr.Gays. My memories of him were of kindness, wonderful sense of humor and caring person. You all were a wonderful addition to Colgate Lane. I will always be so grateful for your care and support you gave my father and our family when we lost our mother. Please know the McCalls send our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

    Megan McCall Sparks

  • Dear Sue and family,
    John and I share the loss of your truly wonderful husband, father and grandfather. To us in the DSD family he was the best administrator/ friend one could ever hope to work with. He was a hero to so many…a calming guide to parents just faced with the unknown that comes with the news of a Deaf child…a ready resource ,sincere assurance that DSD was the place to entrust their childs’ future…always with a kind and loving smile. We both have many fond memories of his wit ,kindness and just plain goodness. We were all so fortunate to have known him. John and Ann Persinger

  • Susan, you & your family are in my thoughts & prayers during this time. I will never forget Richard…he was one of the first & most welcoming people when I began my new role as ChildFind Coordinator in 2001. His memory will live forever in those of us whose lives he touched!

  • Dear Susan,
    We were so sad to hear about Richard’s passing. He was so full of warmth, a shining light, always giving and helping. We loved talking with him at the NAWC Christmas Food Basket Donation Events. He continued to rally as his health was failing and you were the most caring, compassionate and wonderful wife to him. You both were always filled with gratitude and that has been an inspiration to us. May the wonderful memories and all the love you shared, as well as the knowledge that you are very much cared about, help sustain you… Cindy and Rick Greene

  • Dear Susan, I am so sorry to hear you have lost Richard. The only comfort can be he isn’t suffering anymore. He was such an extraordinary man, The Corn King.
    Love Ann Schriever