In Memory

Richard Slacum

I received this note from Elizabeth Slacum, Dick's wife, yesterday:

"Dick Slacum died March 16th 2019 in Tanzania, Africa - medivaced back to Maryland and was cremated in April. His wife and family miss him terribly but we all knew that he died where his passion lay. With love and honour to a truly passionate person."

Following is his obituary from the Kent County News on March 28, 2019:

CHURCH HILL - Richard Ernest Slacum of Church Hill died on March 16, 2019 while on assignment in Tanzania, Africa. He was 70.
He was born in Camden, N.J., the son of the late Richard Stratton and Elise Bauer Slacum.
He was a graduate of Nassa College and earned a master's degree from Rutgers and University of Pennsylvania.
While in Algeria, he met and would eventually marry Elizabeth Lively of West Yorkshire, U.K. in 1993. They resided in Arlington, Va. for several years, left for Madagascar for four more years and for the past 24 years had a farm in Church Hill. He worked as an international agriculture consultant for most of his career in an effort to leave the planet a better place. He spent most of his time in most East African countries and was currently working on a solution to using herbicides that are damaging to the native plants and wildlife.
Richard loved the human aspect of his work and the local people that resided in those regions. He was happiest when he was in the field. Richard had a keen interest in the humane treatment of animals, and nature (especially arborism). He will forever be remembered for his kindness, humor and his endearing patience.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his sister Anne Marie Yasse of Gap, France, and his aunt Caroline Bakley of New Jersey.

A Celebration of Richard's Life will be held at a later date.


Published in The Kent County News on Mar. 28, 2019

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05/12/19 12:13 PM #1    

Vincent Summers

Another is gone. Three score and ten. We'll miss Dick! I do already...

05/13/19 07:05 AM #2    

Geoff Seeger

Dick made some of us feel like mindless, self-absorbed brutes with his quick wit, biting sarcasm and sharp eye for hypocrisy. It was truly energizing to sit near him in class and overhear his nimble mind rip apart the human condition.

05/14/19 01:38 PM #3    

Josh Gitomer

​​This one lands hard. 


Dick and I met in Mr. Elliott’s 7th grade english class and remained quite close all through high school. We reconnected a couple times in Haddonfield in the 70s, once while he was living with Betty, Lou Reeve’s sister, and once while he was sharing an apartment with our mutual good friend, Wayne Pratt. I begged him to come to the 50th, but to no avail. Here are excerpts from a few emails we exchanged in 2015 (Me in blue, Dick in red). I apologize for the length of them, but they give you a taste of the enormous humor, brilliant mind, immense experience, and depth of character of this lovely man. 




Slaveny (I hope I’m spelling that right), 


In recent years I have reconnected, via Facebook and other means, with a number of HMHS 66ers. As you might expect, they span the complete political / socio-economic spectrum, and I find many of their stories entertaining, if not compelling. We have authors, physicians, glass-blowers, used car salesmen, and Vice Presidents of the Federal Reserve. We have Iditarod mushers, animal rescuers, magistrate judges, and cross-continent bicyclists. We have career soldiers, medical administrators, philosophers, music conductors, and stay-at-home moms. We have para-gliders, quilt-masters, rock-climbers, syndicated columnists, and marathoners. The list goes on. 


I know it's a ridiculously outside chance, but I am planning on attending the 50th next April in exotic South Jersey and would love to see you there, or somewhere, while we're both still on this side of the grass. I'm remembering we had quite a history, and I'm sure I would enjoy just sitting and laughing through the memories and the miles. 


On LinkedIn I found your resumé just for the past 10 years. It is nothing short of remarkable. I imagine the prior 40 were equally so. T.E. Lawrence has nothing on you, Richard of Africa.


Warm regards,







I am honored to be included in the log of 66'ers........ Some cranky part of me wants to include ne'er do wells, convicted felons (and non-convicted felons), sex offenders (and we know who you are...), three-timers, and generally, the old gang. Not to mention the late lamented.


Josh...The name itself evokes wonderful times and several wonderful places. FYI, there is no "right" spelling for Slaveny......sort of like Yahweh, only smaller.


I have just responded to a number of family and friends who were caught up in the squalid waste in Paris.


I understand that the reunion will take place in Ong's Hat, NJ (ring a bell?), but could be Haddonfield. Chances of me being in Haddonfield are pretty much comparable with me being in Ong's Hat, but who knows?


I am currently in Monrovia, Liberia, as we struggle out of the Ebola crisis. My contract runs until end-March 2016, at which time I'm on my own. My incredibly patient wife, Elizabeth, continues to support me through my various tantrums and bizarre spells. 


At any rate, please provide a little history and family stories. Back to you soon,





My dear man, 


Out of curiosity, I just Googled "HMHS 66er ne’er-do-wells”, but for some reason neither of our names came up in the search results. I’m drafting an email to Larry Page now…    


So sweet to hear from you. I admit I never quite get over that extraordinary moment when the years and miles instantly disappear at the rekindling of an old friendship. And old friends are, by my reckoning, the clearest benchmarks we have to map the key turnings of our circuitous and unimagined lives. 


Funny you should mention Yahweh. It turns out s/he and I have monikers in common. Somewhere in my 30s I discovered that Joshua is just another honorific of the same ineffable tetragrammaton (YHVH). It actually helped me heal some adolescent wounds.


Liberia has always been a point of fascination for me, given its unique history of being an intentional refuge for freed African-American and Caribbean slaves. Our erstwhile classmate Pete Zwarg (passed just last year) served in the Peace Corp there in the early 70s with an office at the Interior Ministry in Monrovia. Using his engineering degree from Brown, most of his efforts went to designing and supervising the building of roads, bridges, schools, and markets. The Liberian government gave him a medal in recognition of his work.


And who can forget Ong’s Hat, that piney woods ghost town and, as some claim, portal to another dimension? Maybe that explains your alien physiology and early infatuation with Jack LaLanne and The Tensolator. 


Much love, 





I so clearly remember:


1. Filling our baskets with empty bottles and riding our bikes to the A&P on Crystal Lake. We would cash them in for 5¢ each and come out with a couple bucks that were immediately converted into milkshakes next door at Green Valley Farms. Between the two buildings, there was a mysteriously manicured 10’ wide strip of land with a long green lawn bordered by flowering shrubs where we retreated to imbibe. 


2. Luring you to the end of Elm Street, and the courts of the Haddon Field Club, where I worked as groundskeeper, and you and Wayne freely sweeping the white canvas tapes on the clay courts, after I had finished rolling them. 


3. Riding in a hodgepodge collection of motored conveyances, led by the redoubtable Paul Wickes’ in his VW bug, (you in your parents battleship-sized white Bonneville convertible with Ken Weaber and his girlfriend in the back seat) on the way down Route 73 to LBI for the beach filming location of a scene from Wickes' and my epic anti-war docudrama. I don’t remember that the scene actually got shot, but I do remember having a great time trying. 


4. Getting caught in a sudden torrential afternoon downpour with me driving your parent’s car and you riding shotgun, somewhere on the White Horse Pike. The visibility immediate went to zero and all traffic came to a standstill. I apologized to you for being the one in command at that extraordinary moment. 






…And I so clearly remember:


1. Being amazed that not only could you converse with your mother in fluent French, you could banter with her en francés.


2. Playing pool in your basement in a room that was slightly too small to hold the regulation size table, so you had created a custom-shortened cue that was used for shots on the rail nearest the close wall. It also had a 300-point wooden scoring abacus, which for some reason I never recall arriving at the end first. 


3. Visiting you and Wayne in your new digs, and being handed black sheets to cover the sofa for my night’s rest. Seeing the poorly disguised look of incredulity on my face, you offered this: “Actually, any color is fine…as long as it’s black.”


4. Driving the length of the Garden State Parkway where it became the New York State Thruway, and pulling off to stop for a picnic lunch once we got to the first of the Catskill foothills south of New Paltz. You invited me to climb a path that led up a small “crag” as you called it. It couldn’t have been more than 100’ in elevation, but at the top we were afforded a sweeping view of the elegant little valley just beyond. It was a moment that forever changed my life. In an instant, all the photographs I had ever seen of all the mountain ranges on Earth suddenly became real. And the immense possibilities of what lay beyond the ubiquitous flat streets of Haddonfield broke open in my chest. This was perhaps my first true moment of catharsis. And I am grateful to you for it, to this day. 




05/14/19 06:27 PM #4    

Charles Pyle

Sorry to hear about Dick passing. Geoff really captured his essence in a few words. Dick was extremely funny. I cannot remember what I had for breakfast, but for some reason remember a touch football game at Central Jr High, I think we had Mr. Elliott for homeroom and not many athletes. Robby Shannon was quarterback and explained to Dick that he was to hike the ball and then block the rushers, but Dick corrected him and said, “hike the ball and then run backwards.” What a productive and fulfilling life Dick had. Very impressive.

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