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Richard "Dick" DeGrey, community booster

January 05, 2011|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com

Richard "Dick" DeGrey, a former city commissioner and active community booster, died Dec. 30 from natural causes. He was 91.

Born on May 16, 1919, in Salt Lake City, DeGrey is known for his service to La Cañada Flintridge. He and his wife Shirley were awarded the Les Tupper Award and named the 1983 La Cañadans of the Year for their volunteer efforts in the community.

"I think he'll be remembered as a volunteer, as far as the community is concerned. He was a person who was very generous with his time and his talents," said son Richard DeGrey Jr.

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The senior DeGrey chaired the Public Works and Safety Commission, was co-chairman of the Freeway Action Committee in the 1960s, was a founding member and president of the La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Assn. and was president of the La Cañada Kiwanis Club. He also served in many capacities at La Cañada United Methodist Church.

DeGrey was employed as an aeronautical engineer at Lockheed Aircraft (now Lockheed Martin). He was a member of the Skunk Works team and worked on eight different military planes for the U.S. Air Force. The highlight of his career was his work as program manager on the SR-71 Blackbird aircraft.

"He worked on some of the most difficult projects in U.S. aircraft history over a long period of time and had a long record of getting along with everybody. He's a disappearing breed," said Sherman Mullin, who worked with DeGrey at Lockheed.

There was never a hint of an ego in DeGrey, uncommon for most who held his position, Mullin said. He was a low-profile type of manager who pushed the credit toward his team, not himself, Mullin added.

The last years of DeGrey's life were spent caring for his wife of 67 years, Shirley, who has Alzheimer's disease, according to the family.

"Dick was always there for anyone who had a need," said son Stephen DeGrey. "He told us recently that his desire was to make the world a little bit better."

DeGrey is survived by his wife Shirley; his children Richard, Stephen and Barbara DeGrey; and grandchildren Jennifer DeGrey, Michael DeGrey and Samuel DeGrey.

Memorial services have not been scheduled. There will be a private burial and memorial service hosted later in January.

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