July 24, 1924 – Jan. 17, 2017
Richard E. “Dick” Vanderbrook, who was shot two different times while serving as an Army medic during World War II, died on Jan. 17 in the hospice unit of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Buffalo. The Town of Tonawanda resident was 92.
Mr. Vanderbrook, a retired engineer and businessman, rarely talked to friends or family members about his military service, but they learned some of the details when he was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star after the war.
“We learned that he was shot twice while serving in the Philippines, once by friendly fire and once by enemy fire,” said one of his daughters, Karen. “We also know that he was shot once in the arm and once in the butt. Fortunately, he was not seriously wounded either time.”
She said her father never shared much more detail than that. “But we now have a journal he wrote back then, and some letters he wrote during the war, and we’re hoping to learn more from that,” she said.
Born in Newark, N.Y., about 35 miles east of Rochester, Mr. Vanderbrook was educated at Newark High School and Cornell University. At Cornell, he earned a degree in engineering and also met Ruth Nealy, whom he would marry in 1951.
He worked several years for the Army Corps of Engineers in Buffalo before taking a job with the Nussbaumer & Clark engineering firm, where he would work for three decades until his retirement in 1985. With the engineering firm, Mr. Vanderbrook worked primarily on building water and sewage treatment plants all over Western New York. He was half owner of the company when he sold his interest and retired at age 60.
Mr. Vanderbrook and his wife enjoyed traveling, visiting Australia, New Zealand, England and cities all over the United States.
He also enjoyed dancing, singing, playing the piano, bridge and crossword puzzles. Mr. Vanderbrook was a longtime member of the choir at St. Amelia Catholic Church in the Town of Tonawanda.
In addition to his wife of more than 65 years and daughter, Mr. Vanderbrook is survived by another daughter, Donna Antholzner; three sons, Alan, Jeff and Brian; and two brothers, Donald and Gary; 16 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. March 4 in St. Christopher’s Catholic Church, 2660 Niagara Falls Blvd., Town of Tonawanda.