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Vietnam veteran from Mt. Pleasant loved skiing, dancing

Patrick Varine
| Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, 11:00 p.m.

Richard DePree celebrated his 21st birthday in a Vietnam foxhole.

“He was stationed in Phu Bai for a while,” said his daughter, Anne DePree of Santa Monica, Calif. “He was a code interceptor, and he told us that when they landed, they were under sniper fire and he had to duck and crawl to safety.”

Richard J. “Dick” DePree of Mt. Pleasant died Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018, of lung cancer. He was 72.

Mr. DePree was born Aug. 27, 1945, the son of Eugene and Irene (Sofranko) DePree of Latrobe.

He was a graduate of Derry High School and earned a football scholarship to William & Mary College.

A gifted athlete, Mr. DePree excelled at golf and also at skiing, which led him to meet his wife of 47 years, Linda.

“They met at Seven Springs through a mutual friend,” Anne DePree said.

After serving in Vietnam, Mr. DePree finished his tour of duty at the U.S. Embassy in West Berlin, Germany. He returned home and married Linda on Jan. 30, 1971.

Mr. DePree was a member of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 354, based in Youngwood.

“He worked out of town a lot,” his daughter said. “I remember him getting up when it was dark and not coming home until it was dark again.”

Longtime family friend Rebecca Halfhill of Scottdale said Mr. DePree was a very hard worker.

“He traveled all over the country for work,” she said. “When he was at home, he spent as much time as he could with his family, because the job really took him on the road.”

He attended Westmoreland County Community College, where he served as the school's first student government president, Halfhill said.

The DePrees enjoyed traveling, especially to Germany. At home, he enjoyed flower gardening and listening to music.

“He was an amazing dancer,” his daughter said. “He and my mother used to go to the Thunderbird Lounge in Greensburg when they were dating.”

She said her father was quiet but firm.

“He could flash you a look and let you know exactly where you stood with him,” she said. “But he also had compassion where a lot of other people would have judgment. When my mom and I would get upset about something, he'd be able to sit back and take an arm's-length view of a situation.”

Halfhill agreed.

“He was quiet, but very strong and very talented,” she said.

Mr. DePree is survived by his wife, Linda; his children, Anne and Adam; and a grandson, Noah.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Galone-Caruso Funeral Home, 204 Eagle St. in Mt. Pleasant, with interment to follow at Transfiguration Parish Cemetery in Mt. Pleasant. Military rites will be accorded by the American Legion Post 446 and VFW Post 3368.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, pvarine@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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