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Richard "Dick" E. Szlasa

January 29, 1936 ~ December 16, 2023 (age 87) 87 Years Old
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Richard "Dick" Szlasa Obituary

Richard E. Szlasa (“Dick”), 87, of Westminster, MD passed peacefully on December 16, 2023.  Dick was preceded in death by his parents Bertha K. and Edmund J. Szlasa, sister Claudette L. Driscoll, brother Joseph Szlasa, and first wife Mary Anderson. Dick spent his childhood in Bayonne, NJ and Dundalk, MD, where he developed deep roots in his Catholic faith, pride in his Polish heritage and a natural athletic talent. Dick had never used a lacrosse stick until freshman year at Dundalk High School. A friend on the block procured a defense stick for him, giving Dick the opportunity to try out, make the JV team, and begin what would be a 40-year legacy with the sport.

Dick graduated from University of Maryland in 1958 with a BS in physical education. He received his MA in PE from Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) in 1966. Dick started for Maryland’s 1956 lacrosse team that won the National Championship and was named to the All-Time University of Maryland Lacrosse Team in 1976. While drafted in the Army, Dick created the lacrosse program for the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell, KY. In 1960, Dick married his college sweetheart, Mary Anderson, and later became the proud father to son Steve Szlasa and daughters Ann Szlasa and Mary “Mikie” Sarmiento.

Dick began his coaching career in 1959 at the high school level, starting programs at Parkville High and Perry Hall High. He then became the head lacrosse coach at Towson State (now Towson University), leaving in 1968 for a head lacrosse and assistant football coaching position at Washington and Lee (W&L). In 1972 Dick led W&L to the Division I playoffs vs Johns Hopkins University, starting an eleven-year playoff run by his W&L and Navy teams. Dick received the honor of Collage Coach of the Year in 1972. Dick was best known for his unprecedented ten-year winning streak at the US Naval Academy, having the Middies in the NCAA championship tournament from 1973 – 1982. He was chosen University Division Coach of the Year in 1975. New opportunities opened for Dick at Drew University in Madison, NJ where he was athletic director and head lacrosse coach (’83 – ‘87). At Drew, Dick coached his son Steve to become an All-American midfielder and welcomed Steve into the Drew University Hall of Fame ranks. Unexpectedly, Hollywood came calling, and Dick was hired as technical consultant and played Coach Gant in the 1984 movie Firstborn, filmed at Drew. Dick was a member of the U.S. Coaches Association (1967 – 1973) and the U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (1974 – 1992), and served at various times as president and high-ranking officer for both organizations.

Dick received numerous awards over the years. Notably, he was inducted into the US Lacrosse (Greater Baltimore Chapter) Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Intercollegiate Men’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IMLCA) Hall of Fame in 2017. He received the F. Morris Touchstone Memorial Award in 1975.

After a lengthy coaching career, Dick returned to teaching at The Forman School in Litchfield, CT, and Glenelg Country School in Ellicott City, MD. During retirement, Dick spent a year abroad in the South of France with his second wife, Nancy Mason. Dick enjoyed friendships made with local French restaurant owners and a trip to Poland to see the birthplace of his ancestors. Travel adventures in the US with his children, daughter-in-law Cindy Szlasa, son-in-law Santiago Sarmiento and five grandchildren (Nate, Jake, Drew, Hannah, and Ian) brought much joy. We will miss Dick’s songs, fun loving spirit, and laughter.

Services will be private. A celebration of life will be scheduled for a date to be announced. See www.RSVP.studio/richardszlasafuneral to be added to the guest list. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to USA Lacrosse https://www.usalacrosse.com/ or the charity of your choice in the name of Coach Richard Szlasa.

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