Richard J. Gail, 92, of Toledo, Ohio, died Friday, January 31, at the Elizabeth Scott Community in Maumee. A Toledo native, Richard graduated from Libbey High School, and received a degree in English literature from Bowling Green State University, playing on both their football teams. He served his country with distinction during World War II in the War Orientation Department of the U.S. Navy.
As a 38-year-employee of the Champion Spark Plug Company, he began as Technical Writer before assuming the position of Director of the Racing Division, which he held for 20 years. In that capacity, Richard maintained offices in Toledo, Long Beach, and at the Daytona International Speedway and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. At its peak, his work involved covering a total of 40 races in the U.S. and abroad, dealing not only with cars, but boats, motorcycles, snowmobiles and airplanes. His on-the-ground expertise took him to the fabled Formula One raceways at Le Mans in France, Hockenheim in Germany, and Monza in Italy, as well as tracks in Belgium, Monaco, Germany, Mexico and Canada.
An illustrated profile of him in The Blade Sunday Magazine in 1972 summarized his distinction by saying, “Amid the noise and confusion of the auto racing world, Dick Gail moves relentlessly to keep those plugs sparking.” With characteristic modesty, Richard himself noted, “It all looks so glamorous on race day, but the race is anticlimactic. It’s the preparatory engineering that precedes the race where the real work is done.”
An amateur archeologist, Richard witnessed a dig in Jordan and toured the Valley of Kings in Egypt, and his passionate interest in classical opera found him a frequent visitor to both the ‘old’ Metropolitan Opera as well as its later incarnation at Lincoln Center. Richard had been a licensed pilot, a skill complemented by his activities with the Toledo Sailing Club, and by his civic-minded support of (and near-daily visits to) the Toledo Zoo and Toledo Public Library.
Richard’s unsurpassed professional expertise was matched by a remarkable, often bemused, curiosity about current ideas and events, a quality he passed on to his children, who cherish his devotion to their family. Among his children’s fond memories of their father were his astonishing somersaults off the high-dive, his ever-increasing trove of raincoats and briefcases, and his reliably witty take on the world around him.
Richard was preceded in death by his parents, Harry E. and Marie Gail, and his wife of 66 years, Dorothy Lee (Spraggins). He is survived by his children, Leslie (Mike) Stephens of Tampa, Florida; Christina Monnier of Columbus, Ohio; Michael (Barbara) Gail of Toledo; three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
The family would like to thank Hospice of Northwest, Ohio, and especially all the caregivers at The Elizabeth Scott Community who brought comfort and peace to his final days.
A private memorial service will be announced at a later date. The family requests donations be made to The Elizabeth Scott Community, 2720 Albon Road, Maumee, Ohio 43537. Arrangements By The Bersticker-Scott Funeral Home 3453 Heatherdowns Blvd at Byrne Road. Please view and sign Richards condolence page at berstickerscottfuneralhome.com
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