SOUTHFIELD — Longtime Detroit-area engineer and Engineering Society of Detroit member Richard Allen “Dick” Darbyshire died at his Lake Orion home Monday, Jan. 21 at the age of 88.
Darbyshire was born in Armada and grew up in Troy, with his younger siblings Ronnie and Alice (Walker). In high school, he participated in sports, the school yearbook, and the school play, and delivered newspapers for extra money.
With the encouragement of his parents, Darbyshire attended Lawrence Institute of Technology (now Lawrence Technological University). There he became an active member of Phi Kappa Upsilon fraternity and made many lifelong friends. He received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree in 1954.
Shortly after graduation, Darbyshire was drafted into the U.S. Army. Before leaving, he met the woman who would become his wife of 61 years, Genevieve. In the army, his engineering knowledge allowed him options where to be stationed, and Darbyshire ended up near the Panama Canal. There, he worked as a fire control repairman, repairing radar, electro-mechanical computer, and hydraulic systems for light anti-aircraft weapons.
After his Army service, Richard and Genevieve married on May 4, 1957, living first in Royal Oak and then Clawson, where they started their family. In 1977, after the birth of their 10th child, Richard’s dad encouraged the couple to move from their 900-square-foot home in Clawson to their current home in Lake Orion.
During his early family years, Darbyshire took flying lessons, became a founding member of the Troy Elks, participated in the Clawson Dad’s Club, joined the Engineering Society of Detroit, served on the LIT Alumni board, remained an active alumni of Phi Kappa Upsilon, and went back to Lawrence Tech, where he earned his second Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1961.
In later years, Darbyshire enjoyed chopping wood, hunting, sailing on Lake Voorheis, and participating in Welcome Wagon.
Darbyshire’s career was long and diversified. He worked for Bendix Corp., where he designed components of the Lunar Rover used on the Apollo program. He also worked on thrust gyroscopes for missiles at LTV, tanks for Chrysler Defense-General Dynamics, and automotive components for General Motors and Chrysler. During his time working he made many friends, and joined a golf league and the “Vette Sette” Corvette club.
Darbyshire finally retired in 2002, at the age of 72. At this point, his and Genevieve’s 11 children had all moved out of the Lake Orion house, and they could enjoy their time together. They spent their days being hobby sheep farmers with their sons, fixing cars and lawn mowers, and playing the stock market. The thing that probably gave him most joy was when the family would get together and work on projects. Many times he would join them as they roofed houses, built walls, camped, or just hung out together. He was always eager to hear the new projects they had going on and see pictures of their travels. He would often speak with great pride when they came up with a different way to fix something or handle an issue at work. He was always willing to give his input.
Besides his wife, Darbyshire is survived by his sister Alice, his seven sons, four daughters, his 18 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and sons- and daughters-in-law.
The family will receive friends Friday, Jan. 25 from 3 to 8 p.m. and conduct a funeral service Saturday, Jan. 26 at noon at A.J. Desmond & Sons Funeral Home, 2600 Crooks Road in Troy. Internment will follow at White Chapel Cemetery in Troy, where there will also be military honors and an Omega Service by the Phi Kappa Upsilon fraternity. A wake will follow at the Lafayette Grande Banquet Center in downtown Pontiac.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the Lawrence Technological University Alumni Association or the GBS/CIDP Foundation International. Darbyshire fought CIDP, Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy, a neurological disorder closely related to Guillain-Barre syndrome, for the last nine months of his life.