Richard L. ‘Rich’ Dobec Sr.

Richard L. “Rich” Dobec Sr., age 87, of Wooster, Ohio, peacefully passed away on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, at Ohio’s Hospice Life Care in Wooster after a period of declining health. His loving family was by his side.

He was born in Peconic, N.Y., on May 29, 1936, to Watson T. and Stefny (Berkowski) Dobec and grew up assisting his grandfather on a family potato farm on Long Island, N.Y., for the better part of his teenage years. This encouraged him to join 4-H and started his love of horses. 

After graduating Southold High School in 1954, he then served in the U.S. Navy from March 1955 to March 1959 on the U.S.S. Gainard DD 706, a Sumner-class destroyer, as an electrician. After returning back home, he took a job with Grumman Aerospace Co. for nine years, where he worked in the electronics sector for airplanes. One of his special projects was working on the moon lander.

Rich started his formal education journey at SUNY/Cobleskill. He transferred to Cornell University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in animal science and he obtained his Master of Science degree in statistical genetics from Cornell University.

In 1978, he took a job as the assistant professor in horse production and management at Ohio State Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster. Rich also ran the entire horse production/harness racing program in his time at ATI until he retired in 2001.

He continued working with racehorses, including a job as the executive secretary of the Northeast Harness Horsemen’s Association and later as instructor at an area career center.

He was involved in the standardbred business and harness racing as a trainer, driver and then owner. He was involved with the Wayne County Agricultural Society and the Wayne County Fair during the harness racing seasons. Rich also consulted with Foye Genetics, an equine consulting company, with his colleague, mentor, and lifelong close friend, David Foye. Rich and David were instrumental in the breeding of several horses that competed in the Kentucky Derby over the years.

Following his retirement from ATI, with emeritus status, Rich continued to consult at Foye Genetics, play golf, shoot pool and create many cartoons and watercolor paintings. He was also an instructor in watercolors at the Wayne Center for the Arts as well as Nick Amster Workshop for students with learning and developmental disabilities and has won several Best of Show awards at the fair for his artwork.

He was a member of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Wooster and member of the 555th Honors Detachment (Triple Nickel) and the Tin Can Sailors.

He later married Patricia J. “Pat” O’Brien in 1961 at St. William The Abbott in Seaford, N.Y. She survives. In addition to his beloved wife, he is survived by his children, Richard L. “Rich” (Kerri) Dobec Jr. of Ashland, Ohio; Michael (Naomi) Dobec of Shreve, Ohio; Cheryle (Tom) Gehrlich of Carmel, Ind.; and Lawrence (Liz) Wobbler of Knoxville, Tenn.; his grandchildren, Krista and Erin Dobec, Joe, Kate and Abby Gehrlich and Mike Dobec; a sister, Caroline (Jon) Chuzi of Hurley, N.J.; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his sister, Delores Kramkowski.

The Mass of Christian Burial will take place at 11 a.m. Monday, May 6, at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Wooster.

Visitation for family and friends will be at Custer-Glenn Funeral Home, 2284 Benden Drive, Wooster, from 8:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. (two hours prior to Mass) on Monday.

Burial will then take place at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, May 7, at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Seville, Ohio, where military honors will be conducted by the 555th Honors Detachment of Wooster.

Custer-Glenn Funeral home in Wooster is honored to be serving the family.

Memorial contributions may be made in lieu of flowers to The 555th Honors Detachment, 14834, Jordon Road, Creston, OH 44217.

Private or public condolences may be shared with the family at:

This is a paid notice.