Richard Francis Cross III


image of Richard F Cross

Richard F Cross

Richard Francis Cross III passed away on July 14th, 2020, in Bellevue, Washington, surrounded in-person, and virtually, by his family. He was 96 years old.

Richard was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on March 24, 1924, son of the late Lieutenant Richard Cross Jr and Marion (Ritter) Cross. As a child of a Navy family, Richard, and his younger sister, Joanne, moved frequently, making their home in Hawaii, New Jersey, and California. At age 9, Richard’s father was killed when the Navy airship Akron was lost over the Atlantic while they were stationed at Lakehurst, New Jersey. Richard’s mother Marion then moved the family back to their familiar Navy community in Coronado, CA, where Richard spent most of the rest of his childhood.

At an early age, Richard developed a passionate interest in all things Naval. He built hundreds of model ships and would assemble them in battle formations on the high school classroom floor to his classmates’ delight. Due, in part, to his model work, Richard earned scholarships to MIT where he studied Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. Later, he attended Cornell for officer training, and served in the Navy for four years – onboard the USS Portsmouth, at Navy headquarters in Washington, DC (where he met his first wife, Vera Wilson), and in the Pacific theater in Guam (where his first son was born). Richard left the Navy in 1948.

Following his Naval service, Richard had another son, and put his Naval and engineering expertise to work in a civilian capacity. He moved back to San Diego, and worked for General Dynamics Convair Division and later North American Aviation in the Los Angeles area.  At Convair, he was the lead designer of the hull of a Navy jet called Sea Dart, intended to take off and land from the sea surface, which remains on display in San Diego’s Balboa Park.

Richard and Nancy

In 1955, he married Nancy Spicer of Coronado. Richard and Nancy had five children (the first of whom passed shortly after birth) and in 1968 moved to Duxbury, MA, where Richard worked in ship design for General Dynamics Quincy Shipyard. In 1973, Richard left the world of warships and began working at the Federal Aviation Administration.  The family moved to Alexandria, VA and Richard served as the Deputy to the Administrator in the Nixon Administration.  He then formed a Naval history consulting company in Alexandria, where Richard and Nancy continued raising their family and remained for 43 years.  In 2016, they moved to a senior living apartment in Bellevue, WA, near the home of their youngest daughter.

Richard’s love and knowledge of ships stayed with him his entire life. It was once said that Richard held the largest privately owned library of Naval research material in the nation. Anyone who knew him well, knew he could answer any question about any ship or aircraft in any Navy around the world. He was highly respected and served as a consultant and resource for the U.S. Naval Institute in Annapolis, the Navy Museum in DC, and other Naval organizations.

Richard also loved terrestrial architecture, at times in his career designing and building homes and apartments in Coronado, CA and Fredericksburg, VA, as well as a medical clinic in Chula Vista, CA. His projects were always forward thinking, innovative and admired by many.

Richard thoroughly enjoyed travel and possessed a certain wanderlust that always meant a cross-country drive was worth the effort. His family enjoyed many adventures and got to see a lot of this country as a result. He was also talented as an artist, hand-drawing the family’s annual Christmas letters for decades, and designing the best Halloween costumes on the block. Richard also enjoyed his time in the kitchen, and his chocolate chip cookies, hot cross buns, and Saturday morning pancakes will not soon be forgotten. Books and animals filled Richard’s days with happiness. He never stopped reading, had an immense personal library, loved his walks with his dogs when he was still able, and fed many a squirrel from his kitchen window.

Above all, family came first for Richard. He kept in close touch with his six children and always wished he could be closer to any and all of them.

Richard was predeceased (on March 9, 2018) by his wife, Nancy, his infant son, Robert, and his sister, Joanne. He is survived by his children, Richard F Cross IV, William Cross (Shirley), Charley Cross (Julie Greene), Patrick Cross (Marie), Carol Cross (John Phillips), Anita (Cross) Donahou (Joseph), his niece, Tina Watkins (Kelly), seventeen grandchildren, and twelve great grandchildren. He will be dearly missed by his many relatives as well as the many people with whom he crossed paths, who were lovingly treated as family by Richard.

One Response to “Richard Francis Cross III”

  • Linda Leslie says:

    What a wonderful life! I learned so much about your Dad- our families lived in many of the same places- even before Alexandria. I’m so sorry he’s gone.

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