Mr. Richard Daniel Szczepanski, a resident of Destin, Florida and formerly of Ozark, died early Monday morning, February 5, 2024. He was 83 years old.
Funeral services for Mr. Szczepanski with Military Honors will be graveside 1:30 P.M. Friday, February 9, 2024, in Bethel United Methodist Church Cemetery with Reverend Phil Craddock officiating, Homan Funeral Home of Ozark directing.
Mr. Richard Daniel Szczepanski was born on May 21, 1940 to Edmund and Pearl Wujek Szczepanski in Buffalo, New York. Dick joined the Army in 1964 and trained as a helicopter pilot. Following his tour of duty in Vietnam, Dick joined the United States Army Test Board at Ft. Rucker, Alabama as a test pilot. In 1966 he set the world speed record for closed circuit course in a Hughes OH-6 helicopter earning him the Distinguished Flying Cross. While stationed at Ft. Rucker, he met his future wife, Mary Jean Byrd and they were married in April 1967. After his honorable discharge from the Army, Dick enrolled at Auburn University and graduated in 1970 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Throughout his career, Dick held positions focused on ordnance research and development, and testing beginning with the United States Air Force Armament Lab at Eglin AFB. He joined Orlando Technology, Inc. in 1979 where he was in charge of designing and building their Rock Hill Test Range in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. Dick retired in 2010 as Director of Engineering with General Dynamics in Niceville, Florida. While Dick was a talented and dedicated engineer, he was also a very kind and caring husband, father and grandfather who took great delight in the accomplishments of his children and grandchildren. He was never happier than when he and Mary were surrounded by their family who are left with wonderful memories of trips and annual beach weeks he arranged. Dick was predeceased by his parents, brother and sister-in-law, Bernard and Sharon Szczepanski, his parents in-law, Grady and Mary Byrd and brother-in-law, Daniel Byrd. He is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Mary, and children, Jacqueline Veidt Miller (Brian), Janet Szczepanski Denney and Stephen (Maggi) along with his grandchildren, Alexander Miller, ITS3 William Denney (US NAVY), Lilly Perkins, Christopher Denney and Nicholas Denney. Dick is also survived by brother-in-law, Isaac Byrd (Joyce), sister-in-law, Lynda Byrd, nieces and nephew, Sherry Drabik (Keith), Julie Bare and John Byrd (Catherine). In lieu of flowers, donations in Richard’s memory may be made to the Bethel United Methodist Church Cemetery Fund, P. O. Box 1314, Ozark, Alabama 36361; or Elder Services of Okaloosa County (elder-services.org).