NASA

Richard Lee Kutz

February 25, 1940 ~ November 16, 2020 (age 80)

Obituary

Well... it's happened! Richard Lee Kutz answered the call. He has formally accepted a position in Heaven. The Almighty tried to recruit him on October 6, 2020, but Richard, "Dick" to some, and friend to many, did not like his first offer and negotiated for an additional 41 days before accepting the position. Typical Dick Kutz! Richard was a solid recruit for the “big guy” upstairs. He was born February 25, 1940 and, despite his mischievous youth, locking his grandfather in a shed, stink bomb pranks, and infamous “science experiments” conducted in his basement, he led an exemplary life of monumental achievement.

Richard was an adventurer, an explorer of the world, and a nature enthusiast. One of his first dates with Anna, his wife to be and the love of his life, was spelunking (which is crawling around in caves with bats for those who don't know). Not even that could discourage Anna from the twinkle in Richard's eye. He was always up for a journey of the mind and soul, whether it be a walk admiring the wildlife around him, particularly birds (a trait picked up naturally from his mother who was an avid ornithologist and a botanist, and his father, a zoology and biology professor), or a surprise road trip, or an intentionally planned cross-country trip with his family.

Dick graduated from Penn State University in 1962 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. He was known as the “curve-buster” often to the chagrin of his fellow students. It was certainly no surprise when he was recruited by NASA to work on “space stuff,” and he moved with his beautiful wife, Anna, to Burtonsville, Maryland, a short commute to Goddard Space Flight Center. Dick and Anna settled down and started a family; having first, a daughter, Lisa, and then a son, Michael.

Richard's love affair with the great outdoors never left his side for long and he regularly took the whole family (including his mother) in the family “truckster” (a.k.a. Chevy Impala) on cross-country trips to explore our country's National Parks, spending the night exclusively at campgrounds, often with no amenities (to Lisa's dismay), and passing by amusement and water parks, enthusiastically pointing them out to his kids as they drove, but rarely, (if ever) stopping.

Richard eventually left NASA in 1995 and eased into a not-too-shabby position of “Principal Engineer” for Jackson & Tull in their Defense and Space Division. He ultimately retired from Jackson & Tull, but according to one website, he is still working there to this day. Richard’s passion for space remained steadfast throughout his lifetime. In fact, one of his favorite pastimes once he retired was watching rockets being launched into space (even the reruns of prior launches) on a daily basis.

Richard was incredibly kind, tender-hearted, and generous with his love, time, and talent. He was admired for his sharp intellect and ability to solve complex problems. It was not uncommon for family and friends to seek his assistance with seemingly unsolvable problems, a challenge that was always accepted with a smile. Richard had a keen ability to design, fabricate, and “fix” nearly anything. He also had an unwavering amount of patience, a willingness to help others, and the perseverance necessary to solve any problem. The harder the challenge, the better!

As a nature enthusiast, the great outdoors was always calling to him; not the edifices of ballyhoo and commercialized entertainment. Richard was a Scoutmaster and an active participant in Boy Scouts. He mentored and encouraged young Michael as well as several other scouts in attaining their Eagle Scout rank. One of his favorite experiences was his trek with Michael to Philmont High Adventure Scout Ranch, sharing his love of nature with his son. Richard continued to enjoy hiking well into his mid to late 70’s, when he completed at least five 30K’s. Some would classify him as a “thrill seeker” during his lifetime as he attained a private pilot’s license in his 20’s and flew small aircraft and enjoyed scuba diving, snow skiing, hunting, “extreme camping” (the more remote the better) and riding rollercoasters at the theme parks in Orlando with his kids and grandkids in his 70’s.

Richard also had an appreciation for the arts, and he enjoyed listening to all kinds of music (especially the Sirus XM Broadway channel). His ideal date night was to take his wife to dinner and a movie, an opera or musical at the Kennedy Center, or a new art exhibit at the Smithsonian.

Richard is survived by his amazing wife of 59 years, Anna; his daughter, Lisa Clary, son-in-law, John Clary, and grandson, Alex Clary; his son, Michael Kutz, daughter-in-law, Becky Kutz, granddaughter, Sophia Kutz, and grandson, Jack Kutz. He was adored by his family and will be missed terribly. Richard plans on being cremated with his ashes kept in an urn and sprinkled in some of his favorite spots, including his beloved Appalachian Trail, because his spirit cannot be tied to one corporeal position, as he loved to travel to new and exciting places. “What’s a Grecian Urn? Oh, about 200 drachmas a week.” Just a little Dad humor, thrown in because if you know Richard, he loved a good laugh.

Please celebrate Richard’s life in whichever way you choose; you can raise a glass to him, or say a prayer, or remember an interesting and affable encounter with him. Instead of flowers, Richard would hope that you will take a hike, ride a bike, or find yourself on a great adventure, and above all, do something fun with your family. He would say you are never too old to start a new hobby or learn something new. Life is a journey, not a destination, and Richard is still hiking his journey in the heavens now; most fitting for a former NASA engineer.

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