Litchfield '22 dies; Was Thayer HDIning Hall regular, sports fan

by Yvonne Chiu | 5/11/93 10:00pm

Richard Charles Litchfield '22, a retired toymaker and ship chandler who was a well-known figure on the Dartmouth campus, died Monday at the Country Health Care Center in Lancanster, N.H.. He was 92.

Litchfield died of cancer, said his daughter Betty Werner of Shelborne, N.H.

"Old Man Thayer," as he was affectionately referred to by some students, frequented the College dining hall and was often spotted all over campus.

"We would be part of his daily routine," said Joyce Blunt, an assistant in Baker Library. "He'd eat breakfast at Thayer, then drop by the Reserve Desk, go to the Microtext room, fall asleep while reading his newspapers, and then come back to see us."

Tom Agan '54, a Reserve Desk supervisor, said, "From early to mid-morning, he would come in to read. He stopped at the Reserve Desk to say good morning to everyone.

Werner said her father had a "love affair with Dartmouth." Prior to living in the Country Village Health Care Center, Litchfield lived alone for several years on School Street.

He also used to visit the College every winter when he lived in Chocoura, N.H. He would stay at the Occom Inn, Werner said.

"He would drive 90 miles per hour to every [College athletic event], and drive only 20 miles per hour on the way back," she said.

"He loved every kind of sporting event. He liked the women's track team particularly," she added.

Everyone who knew Litchfield knew of his love for Dartmouth.

The year before his death, his daughter had a difficult time deciding between leaving him in Hanover or placing him in a nursing home, Agan said.

"She was worried all the time that he would fall down," Agan said. "He was losing his ability to get around well." Agan said Litchfield had also begun to lose his memory.

Litchfield was born Aug. 31, 1900 in Dorchester, Mass. He attended the Boys Latin School. After graduating from Dartmouth, he earned a degree from the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration in 1923.

His activities while enrolled at Dartmouth are sketchy. Werner said her father did not participate on the track team but "he secretly wanted to be a track person or a newspaper man."

And was he not a member of a fraternity, she added. She knows little else about his activities at the College.

"He was devastated when I wanted and my children wanted to go" to other schools than Dartmouth, Werner said.

He owned his own canvas business, which outfitted ships during World War II. He also made tents for Adm. Richard Byrd's south polar expeditions, Werner said.

In 1959 after his daughter married, Litchfield retired and moved with his wife, Mary Emily of Crete, Ill., to Chocoura. He sold handmade toys and wooden dollhouses until the age of 89.

His wife died in 1975. After her death, Litchfield started to spend more time at the College.

"After his wife died, he so enjoyed being around campus and with the young folks. It became his first home," Agan said. "He was always visiting students."

Litchfield is survived by his only daughter, Werner; his four grandchildren: Marta Werner-Waterhouse of Buffalo, N.Y., Rebecca Werner-Lungren of Richmont, Vt., Wendy Werner-Heimbach of Bristol, W. Va. and William of Braintree, Mass.; and his three great-grandchildren: Alisha and Alex Heimbach and Tristin Werner.

In lieu of flowers, the family said contributions may be sent to the College's libraries.

The time and location for memorial services will be announced soon.