Oct. 29, 1919 – Dec. 25, 2015
Richard A. “Dick” Batt, the former director of engineering for Trico Products Corp. and a World War II veteran, died Christmas Day in North Coast Hospice, Carlsbad, Calif., after a long illness. The Clarence resident was 96.
Born in Buffalo, he was the great-grandson of Franz Joseph Batt, an immigrant from Alsace-Lorraine who built Our Lady Help of Christians Chapel at the edge of his large farm at Union Road and Genesee Street in Cheektowaga.
An altar boy, Boy Scout and paperboy, he attended Holy Spirit Elementary School and was a 1937 graduate of Bennett High School, where he developed a love of math and chess. He graduated first in his class at the University of Notre Dame School of Engineering in 1941.
His first job at Caterpillar Tractor Corp. in Peoria, Ill., gave him a deferment from military service, but he answered an appeal for more volunteers for the war effort and enlisted in the Merchant Marine.
After training for maritime engineering, he served aboard Liberty Ships sailing the North Atlantic, narrowly missing torpedoes from two German U-boat attacks. His ships delivered troops and supplies to the beaches of Normandy on D-Day and brought supplies to ports in France and the Mediterranean. He attained the ranks of lieutenant and chief engineer.
Returning from service, Mr. Batt joined Trico as a quality control engineer, then worked in research and development. He was part of teams that improved Trico windshield wipers and invented new products.
He was appointed to head a new division, Liaison Engineering, which worked closely with the engineering chiefs at Trico’s major customers in the automobile and truck industry. In 1978, he was named director of engineering for the entire company, overseeing more than 200 technical personnel. He retired in 1983, having never missed a day of work.
In retirement, he volunteered with the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, working on engineering in the Buildings and Properties Department. One of his major projects was the conversion of the former Buffalo Courier-Express building into a diocesan chancery and offices. He also was instrumental in forming an association of building and property offices of all the dioceses in New York State.
He was a member of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He also was a part of the Project Liberty Ship group that helped bring the SS John W. Brown Liberty Ship to Buffalo harbor for the public to see in August 2000. His Merchant Marine uniform is on display at the Buffalo Naval Museum.
A 50-year parishioner at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church, he was a lector, a member of the Holy Name Society and a past president of the Serra Club. For many years, he volunteered with the St. Vincent de Paul Society, often visiting elderly residents of the Erie County Home and Infirmary in Wende.
He was a former director of the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Buffalo, past chairman of the Buffalo Jaycees Speakers Bureau and a former member of the advisory committee for Goodwill industries.
His wife of 67 years, the former Mary Grace Tilley, whom he met at Notre Dame, died in 2012.
Survivors include a son, Richard A. Jr.; two daughters, Jenn and Debbie Batt Potter; three brothers, Garth, Stewart and Clem; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
A memorial Mass with military honors will be arranged early next summer.