Watsonville resident Richard “Dick” E. Kitch, age 96, passed away in the early morning of June 10, 2020, of natural causes. Dick was born May 24, 1924, in Pawnee County, Kan., to wheat farmers Lloyd and Marie Kitch. He was the youngest of four children. Having graduated high school at 17, he left home to attend Ft. Hays State University, where he was an active member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. A proud veteran, Dick served in the U.S. Army from 1944 to 1946, stationed in the Philippines and then Kyoto, Japan. Upon his discharge, he returned to Ft. Hays State where he earned a degree in economics in 1949.
Dick’s 36-year career as a business executive took him to North Dakota, Iowa, and eventually Pasadena, Calif., where he met and married his wife of 50 years, Shirley Rae (Kearns) Kitch. They had three daughters and settled in Costa Mesa, Calif., by way of Dallas, Texas, and San Jose, Calif. Dick retired in 1985 as the vice president and treasurer of a Los Angeles insurance firm, at which point he and Rae moved to Corralitos. They remained there for 18 years before moving to Aptos in 2003. He has lived in Watsonville for the past two years.
Dick and Rae, who was an accomplished artist and watercolorist in her own right, shared a love of the arts and were instrumental in establishing the Pajaro Valley Arts Council’s home in the historic building on Sudden Street in Watsonville. In addition, Dick volunteered at the Watsonville YMCA, serving on the organization’s board of directors and often treating his fellow Y members to his delicious home-baked goods. He was also very proud of his one year of service on the City Civil Jury. A true Renaissance man, Dick loved to garden, travel, play piano, read, and attend the symphony and the annual Santa Cruz County Open Studios Art Tour. He was particularly fond of entertaining and was a life-long Bridge player. A consummate do-it-yourselfer and dapper dresser, Dick was a very creative and determined man who took great pride in his home and family, especially Rae’s artwork, which he spent considerable time and effort on framing and promoting.
Dick was preceded in death by his father, Lloyd, and mother, Marie, as well as his three siblings: Doris, Irma, and Robert. He lost his wife, Rae, to cancer in 2006. He is survived by his daughters Tia Kitch, Kristin Gallagher (Kelly), and Tamara Anthony, as well as two granddaughters: Caitlin Gallagher and Devin Gallagher.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Dick’s name to the Pajaro Valley Arts Council (www.pvarts.org). Memorial services will be scheduled and announced as soon as circumstances permit.
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