Richard Francis De Mattos, 91, of Brevard, a devoted husband and father, passed away on Friday February 5, 2021.
Richard was born December 7, 1929 to VS and Carline De Mattos in the Bronx borough of New York City. He graduated from Cardinal Hayes High School and studied radio communications and electronics at the RCA Institutes in New York City. He served at Fort Dix in the U.S. Army during the Korean War as a trainer in radio communications and an MP -- earning the rank of Corporal. In 1957, he graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.
He met his lifelong partner, Hildegard, in 1959 and they married a year later. They started a family in Plainfield, NJ, where he began a long career working for Lockheed Electronics. In 1966, they lost their one-year old son Craig after a brief and tragic illness. In 1969, he and his wife, along with their three other children – Marc, Christopher and Annette - moved to Bernardsville, NJ where they established a loving home. This soon became the launching point for countless family travel and camping adventures that he and his family loved.
During his career as an electrical engineer, he designed and built antennas and radar systems, including radars for U.S. Navy Aegis class ships and the International Friend or Foe (IFF) system -- still used on U.S. Navy vessels today. As a licensed ham radio operator for over 70 years, Richard relished communicating with other enthusiasts around the globe by voice and Morse Code – guided, of course, by the antenna he meticulously designed and constructed in his back yard.
After retiring, he and Hildegard moved to Brevard in 2000 where they built many more memories – In his words “the best move of our lives”. Richard’s passions and hobbies included ham radio, music, hiking, tinkering in his workshop, and visiting with family and friends. He was a formidable competitor in dominoes, Scrabble, Rail Baron, and numerous other games. For many years he also enjoyed building hiking trails with the Connestee Falls community. Retirement also brought the opportunity to expand his love of travel -- going on many trips, including one epic journey in their VW Beetle to Alaska, the California and Gulf Coasts, and back.
He was known to be a man of kindness, integrity, generosity, and cared deeply for his family and friends. He touched the lives of everyone around him and will be forever loved and missed.
In addition to his parents, Richard was preceded in death by his son, Craig. He is survived by his wife, three children, Marc, Chris, and Annette, five grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.
A family remembrance and celebration of his life was held at his home. A service at Sacred Heart Church in Brevard will be held at a later date.
Condolences and memories may be left at www.ashevilleareaalternative.com In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Richard’s memory to the Transylvania County Library Foundation, 212 S. Gaston Street, Brevard, NC 28712.
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