Richard Whitfield McCoy was born on October 4, 1935 in Wauwatosa Wisconsin. He died peacefully in the early morning hours of July 3, 2022 in the comfort and care of Agrace Hospice in Madison. “Dick” approached his end-of-life with a joyful and gracious attitude. The causes of his death were leukemia and a brain disorder. With a deep interest and knowledge, Dick kept his family informed of the changes he experienced in body and mind over time. Expressions of his gratitude for the care he received from UW physicians, nurses, and other professionals, accompanied each health update.
Dick grew up in Wauwatosa with his parents Finis Farris McCoy and Edna Blank McCoy, and with his two sisters Naomi and Lynne. Under his father’s guidance, he developed useful problem-solving skills at home, camping every summer in Door County, and helping his dad with a cooking show they ran on Wisconsin Public Television. Ah, the beginning of his lifelong delight with tasty food!
Starting in 1953 as a student, Dick enjoyed a long and rewarding association with UW Madison. In his love of education, he attained four degrees: BS in Electrical Engineering, BBA, MBA, and PhD in Applied Computing. He further studied in Munich and Tübingen Germany, where, as he described, he “majored in Bier drinking!”, became fluent in German, and made close friends. In Madison, Dick met a wonderful girl, the love of his life, Elizabeth Marshall. On August 13, 1966 they married, and together they set out to experience all that life could teach them.
Career opportunities at the UW kept them in Madison for a time. There Dick established the first Information Technology courses and the first Computing facility in the School of Business. He directed the UW academic and administrative computing services. Dedicated to the “Wisconsin Idea” that education should influence people’s lives beyond the boundaries of the classroom, Dick served both state and federal governments in the field of Information Technology. He worked in the Carter White House, with responsibilities for computing. Later, Dick and Elizabeth moved to California, where he was named President of RLG, the Research Libraries Group at Stanford University. He led the consortium, which designed cooperative programs to serve the needs of large research libraries, national libraries, and large art museums. Their next chapter took them to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. As a long-term consultant, Dick directed the University’s strategic planning for Information Technology. He was a true pioneer in the early days of computers across the country.
An adventuresome couple, Dick and Elizabeth took a hiatus during their careers to follow a dream. They sold their house and cars and ordered a boat built in the Orient. Aboard that vessel, the “Vinifera”, they lived and traveled for 18 months, circumnavigating the eastern third of the US and parts of Canada, on North American waterways.
Later Dick and Elizabeth retired back in Madison where they both had family and friends. In their beautiful home in Shorewood Hills, they excelled at woodworking, flower gardening, cooking and sharing delicious food and fine wine. Dick became a leader in the effort to establish the UW Lakeshore Nature Preserve, providing support for this precious natural area through continued fundraising. His local environmental interests included active participation in the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, a provider of science-based education on climate change for area youth. Eventually, Dick moved into a home in the Prairie Point neighborhood of the Attic Angels Community. Elizabeth had long been an “Angel” volunteer there, assisting others in need. Through his involvement in organizational committee work, Dick provided leadership into the planning process for installation of a solar power system on the roof of their main building. In recent times, Dick himself benefited from the aid of present-day “Angels”.
He is preceded in death by his loving wife Elizabeth Marshall McCoy, his parents Finis Farris McCoy and Edna Blank McCoy, his two sisters and their husbands Naomi Braun (William) and Lynne Rieger (Edmund), brother-in-law Helmut Bauer (Nancy Marshall Bauer), as well as many dear friends and extended family members.
He is survived by brother-in-law Richard H. Marshall (Ann) of Toronto, Canada; sisters-in-law Nancy Marshall Bauer (Helmut Bauer) of Madison, and Jane Marshall (Bert Brouwer) of Birmingham, Alabama. He is also survived by nieces, nephews, a host of great nieces and nephews, extended family, and dear friends.
A Memorial and reception in honor of Richard W. McCoy will be held on Sunday, September 11, 2022 at the Attic Angel Community Room and Garden Room, 3pm - 6pm.
8301 Old Sauk Road, Middleton, WI 53562
The Family suggests memorial/tribute contributions be made to:
• UW Lakeshore Nature Preserve https://lakeshorepreserve.wisc.edu/donate/
Lakeshore Nature Preserve
Attn: Laura Wyatt
Assistant Director, Lakeshore Nature Preserve
21 North Park St., Suite 6101
Madison, WI 53715
Or, to give online visit: supportuw.org/giveto/lakeshore
• Aldo Leopold Nature Center https://aldoleopoldnaturecenter.org/
330 Femrite Drive
Monona, WI 53716
Donations can also be made online: