Obituary: Captain Richard H. Mayhew, 98, of Ridgefield

Captain Richard H. Mayhew
Captain Richard H. Mayhew

“Captain” Richard (Dick) Mayhew, a long-time resident and active member of the Ridgefield community, passed away on September 20, 2018 in Danbury Hospital after a short illness. He was 98-years old. 

Born on June 13, 1920 in Bishop, CA, Richard was the son of the late Harold and Frances Mayhew. He grew up on a family dairy farm in Fillmore, CA and graduated from Fillmore High School in 1938. Richard left the family farm to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot and attended John Brown University in Arkansas, before transferring to Ventura Junior College where he earned a degree in commercial aviation.

Richard joined the military in 1941 and after completing cadet training became certified as a pilot on March 30, 1942. He served as a Navy flight instructor, training pilots during WWII at air bases in Jacksonville, Miami and Deland, FL. 

Richard started his 34-year commercial aviation career with TWA in 1946. He moved to Ridgefield in the 1950s and flew for Pan American Airlines, as Chief Navigator for 17 years, and ultimately retired as a 747 Captain in 1980. During that time he logged more than 29,000 hours, flew more than 20 different types of commercial airplanes for PAN AM and travelled to most major cities in the world. He took great pride in flying celebrities, and most notably he flew the Beatles from London to JFK in February 1964 on their inaugural trip to the United States. After retirement, he remained an active member of the PAN AM Clipper Pioneers and enjoyed flying his Piper Cherokee around New England.  

He was predeceased by his loving wife of 62 years, Mildred Cate Mayhew, his son, Richard Mayhew Jr. of Williston, VT and his brothers Wilbur Mayhew of Fillmore, CA and Glen Mayhew of Albuquerque, NM. 

He is survived by his daughter, Nancy Odaniell of Charleston, SC, grandson, Harrison Odaniell of Boston, MA, sister Jean Zellwiger, of Santa Barbara, CA, and sister Lillian Coert of Fillmore, CA.

He is also survived by his partner of the last 12 years, Vera Caporale of Ridgefield and her daughters Isabella Caporale of Ridgefield and Wende Greene of North Salem, NY.  

Richard loved Ridgefield. He was a member of Jesse Lee Memorial Church and was an active member of the community. A longtime member of the Rotary Club, he received citations from the State of Connecticut General Assembly for his dedicated service to the Town of Ridgefield and was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. He especially enjoyed riding in antique cars in Ridgefield’s annual Memorial Day Parade and served as Grand Marshal of the parade in 2017. In recent years, Richard and Vera enjoyed playing cards and socializing with friends at Founders Hall. 

Friends will be received on Tuesday, October 2, from 5 to 7 p.m., at Kane Funeral Home, 25 Catoonah Street, Ridgefield, CT. A private burial will be at St. Mary’s Cemetery on Wednesday, October 3.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Ridgefield Rotary Club.