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Camp director had deep commitment to giving

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By Jerry Vondas
Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Rick Deer was a man who gave his heart to many.

His commitment to the YMCA, the Richland Youth Foundation and St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Zelienople earned him the RichMar Rotary's Paul Harris Fellows Award.

Richard “Rick” E. Deer III of Fombell in Beaver County, former executive director of Deer Valley Family Camp in Fort Hill, died of cancer on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, at his home. He was 59.

Charlotte Westhoven Deer never doubted that Mr. Deer, whom she met in 1975 at the YMCA's Camp Kon-O-Kwee Spencer in Fombell, was the man for her.

“I found Rick to be funny, witty and happy,” she said. “But it was his commitment to special-needs children and adults that attended the camp that truly attracted me.”

The couple married a year later.

“Rick never disappointed his family, his church or the people who put their trust in him,” his wife said. “Rick's involvement with St. Paul's Lutheran Church enabled him to hold candlelight services and Bible studies at Deer Valley. And he gave inspiring and uplifting sermons.”

Mr. Deer was born and grew up in Bellevue, one of two sons of Richard E. and Lillian Sitterle Deer.

While attending Bellevue High School, Mr. Deer worked as a vendor at the former Forbes Field in Oakland, earning money while he watched the Pirates play.

He graduated in 1971 from Belle-vue High School, where he played the organ and accordion, and sang. In 1975 he earned a political science degree from Duquesne University.

Mr. Deer started his career as program director of the Wilmerding YMCA. From 1978 to 1992, he was the executive director of the Richland Youth Foundation. In 1992, he returned to the YMCA for the rest of his career.

Mr. Deer, said his wife, thrived as the executive director of the YMCA's Deer Valley Family Camp in Somerset County. In 2007, he took over as executive director at Camp Kon-O-Kwee Spencer, in addition to becoming vice president of camping services for the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh.

In addition to his wife, Charlotte, Mr. Deer is survived by his children, R.C. Deer of Charlotte, Rachel Deer of Charlotte and Mary Deer of Fombell; a brother, Ronald Deer of Beaver; and three grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday at Camp Kon-O-Kwee Spencer, 126 Nagel Road, Fombell, with the Rev. Robert Kepplinger officiating.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Boyland Funeral Home of Zelienople.

Jerry Vondas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7823 or jvondas@tribweb.com.

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