Longtime Del Mar resident Richard John Lighthall passed away peacefully at the age of 86 on Feb. 1. He was born Sept. 18, 1924, in New York City and grew up in Darien, Connecticut. After a short time at the University of Connecticut, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, became a radio operator, and was given an explosively warm welcome by Japanese at Iwo Jima. After two years at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, he moved west permanently, where he finished his B.A. and did graduate work at Occidental College.
When citizens of Oceanside wanted to establish a Boys' Club, Lighthall was hired to plan the facility, help with raising funds, hire a staff, and serve as executive director for 12 years. While there the Oceanside High School Boys' League chose him “Father of the Year” before he even had children of his own. He also received regional and national awards from the Boys Clubs of America and was active on the Welfare Council, the Optimist Club, and headed a United Way drive. Many at-risk boys along with friends and visiting family members developed a life-long love for the outdoors from camping and backpacking in the Sierras on trips with Dick. Later he became a docent at Torrey Pines Reserve.
After earning a master’s degree in political science, Dick began a teaching career at Mesa College, where he stayed for over 20 years. The family moved to Del Mar in 1967, where the Children's Creative Workshops became a special activity and where Richard and his wife, Arlene, were active in the development of the community general plan. Upon retirement he and his wife continued their love of traveling, and he enjoyed his volunteering at Scripps Memorial Hospital. Music of all kinds was always a a great love, and each year he would sing himself hoarse with Irish tunes alongside the Friendly Sons of St.Patrick, who chose him Irishman of the Year in 2006.
In 1956 he married the former Arlene Ahlgrim, who survives him, along with sons Samuel French Lighthall and Geoffrey Kenton Lighthall, and two grandchildren, Sara and Rachel Lighthall. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the. Glenner Alzheimer's Family Center at 335 Saxony Road, Encinitas, CA 92024.