February 11, 2008

Richard Merritt Fish

German Linguist

October 8, 1946 - February 21, 1987. Born in Minneapolis, Dick died in Denver As a blond, curly-haired little boy, he went to Page School and then Blake. He was in Cub, then Boy Scouts and got an early taste of the mountains when he attended the national Scout Jamboree in Colorado Springs.

Dick started college at the University of Denver. At the end of his first year, he enlisted in the Army and served most of his four years as a German language interpreter with the Army Security Agency in West Berlin, Germany. Following his tour, he returned to the University of Denver where he graduated with a major in French. He spent his junior year in France at the University of Strasbourg.

On graduation he announced he was going to be a musician. A major influence must have been the 3-1/2 years he sang with the Johannischer Chor Berlin. So, Dick and his guita,r "Machine", started out. Then came Mr. Fish and Freddie, Lodestar, Ace-High Dealers, Wildlife, Both Barrels, Fish and Chips, and finally the Tollgate Band in Central City, CO, his musical home after 1982.

His fascination with math and computers influenced him to enter graduate school at the University of Colorado-Denver in 1983; he was nearing completion of his work toward an MBA.

Among his musician friends, he was known as Fish or Mr. Fish - the latter emblazoned on his Colorado license plates.

Charlie Ray Holbrook

German Linguist

The eulogy below was written by Don Cooper.

A eulogy for Charlie

When Charlie Ray Holbrook arrived in Berlin in 1967, he was another "newk," a 20-year-old German linguist from Texas who in many ways was much like myself. At 21, I had been in Berlin for more than a year and fashioned myself one of the grizzled old veterans of the 54th Army Security Agency Special Operations Command.

Charlie’s story did mirror mine, although he grew up in West Texas and I grew up in southwestern Arkansas.

During those days when the draft was like a sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of young men who were really ready to use college deferments to avoid going to Vietnam, Charlie and I both had enlisted, which gave us some options and other ways to keep from slogging through the jungles of Southeast Asia.

Or that’s what we told ourselves. In reality, we really joined the Army because – as Charlie said – to grow up and the Army, especially the Army Security Agency, seemed to offer both a chance to grow up and enjoy the glamor of being a "spy" in Berlin, the hottest spot of the Cold War.

When 20-year-old "Chuck" Holbrook arrived in Berlin, he recalled joining "a unit that made ‘M*A*S*H*’ look like serious drama."

"Being an Army misfit was already a badge of honor in such company. Legends had already grown from the exploits of what was basically a bunch of pretty smart drunks who had preceded me," he wrote years later.

So many of us were like Charlie, kids from small towns and cities around the United States who found Berlin to be a place where we grew up and out of our innocence.

In the late 1960s, Berlin was, as Charlie said, "an isolated microcosm of world events. The music was psychedelic and (we) were susceptible."

"Those years in the late Sixties were the most important years of the last century. Historians should throw those years around like lead weights," he later wrote. "They were heavy years. They have shaped our lives and the nation’s history ever since. That was the real revolution. And it hurts me to say it, but we lost.

"We came close when Nixon resigned, yet the power boys beat us (in 2000) when they put a man in the White House who was elected by nobody. The establishment won. The revolution died not with a whimper, but with a whine. We put the system on trial and the jury returned a no bill.

"But at least we fought and lost together, or some of us did. As Bob Dylan said, ‘I’m glad I fought, I only wish we’d won.’"

Charlie, who had been managing a food bank in Alpine for the past several years, waged his fight until the end, when he died peacefully Friday night in his mother’s home in Odessa.

Charlie Ray Holbrook was not someone that people in Hereford knew, at least I don’t think so. But Charlie was my friend, one of the links to my own past – and a reminder of my own mortality.

John W. Crossno III

German Linguist

John W. Crossno III, 61, of Fort Smith died Saturday, Feb. 25, 2006, in Fort Smith. He was a teacher at Southside High School, taught English and German, and was an Army veteran and a member of First Baptist Church in Fort Smith.

Robert W. "Bob" Shideler


C Trick Blue Analyst

Robert W. "Bob" Shideler, 61, Lenexa, KS, died September 30, 2007 in an accident at his farm in Carroll County, Missouri. Bob had lived in the Kansas City area for 21 years. He had been a salesman in the equipment and machinery business for 35 years and was currently employed by Sellers Equipment Co. He was a graduate of Kansas State University and an avid outdoorsman. Bob is survived by his wife of 39 years, Marcia L. Shideler and other family.

Peter Hugh Davis


German Linguist

Peter Hugh Davis, 63, of Monroe, LA, November 22, 2006. He is survived by his wife, Charlene Shanas Davis of Monroe, LA and family. After the Army, he began his 34 year stint as a teacher at St. Fredrick High School.

Cortland S. Beers

German Linguist

Cortland S. Beers, 59, of Lower Nazareth Twp. Died February 14, 2007, in his home after a nine-year battle with Multiple Sclerosis. He was the husband and best friend of Karen (Haefale) Beers. Following his return from Germany, he attended Bethlehem Business School. He worked in operations management in the trucking industry for many years, retiring in 1998 due to his disability.