Island Cremations & Funeral Home ~ Merritt Island, Florida ~ 321-454-3331

Obituaries

Richard Pitts

September 23, 1938 - July 20, 2020

U.S. Veteran

Dick will be interred at the Cape Canaveral National Cemetery, however due to limited capacity because of current conditions, the family has chosen to celebrate his life at a later date.

Richard (Dick) Nelson Pitts made peace with himself and traveled a quantum thread to be with our Lord on July 20, 2020. He lived a full life filled of laughter and fun with his children and grandchildren, worldly travels with his wife, Kathy, and a 44-year career with the same company. He was known for his quick wit, and he and son Mike could keep the family howling at many a holiday dinner! He was born on September 23, 1938 in Friday Harbor, Washington and was raised by his late mother and stepfather Dorothy and Arthur Pitts. Being a “navy brat,” he got a little taste of travel and the military, and himself enrolled in the Air Force after high school, serving one tour as a radar technician. During this period, his parents moved to Orlando, FL, right across the street from wife, Kathy’s family. Story goes, she caught his attention while mowing the lawn, he sent her a note, and it all began there!

Dick began his career at Radiation, Inc. in Orlando which later became Harris, Corporation, moving to Melbourne. During this time, he also attended the Florida Institute of Technology at night to earn his BS in Engineering. He served Harris in many capacities throughout his 44-year career, most notably winning programs such as Nimbus B (weather satellites), FAA communications, and VSCS (voice switching & control system), a several billion-dollar contract of which he was the chief architect! After being promoted to Vice President and Chief Scientist for the Air Traffic Control Division, his continued work for the ATCSD program brought many more awards, and he was even published in several technical journals! In fact, one of his superiors wrote in a commendation memo that “Dick’s leadership… was a performance that I have never seen equaled in my 14 years in this business.” In the 1990’s, after 32 years at Harris, Dick retired for the first time. ARINC, who became familiar with his stellar work in ATCSD, offered Dick a Vice President position to come to Maryland and set up a similar division. So, he and Kathy moved to Maryland for five years before moving back to Melbourne and continuing work in the Government Systems Division until his retirement in 2013.

Dick loved his children, and despite a full work schedule and many business trips in the early years, he always made time for them. He spent many hours building Barbie houses, model cars and starships, listening to countless stories, attending band concerts, sports events, and in later years flying model rockets and teaching them how to waterski and safely use a boat! His adoration for his grandchildren was unparalleled. A smile would light up his face when they entered the room, and he would do anything they wanted! They loved to sit on his lap, and sometimes would even attempt it to this day! He and Grandma held summer “sleep-away” camps and made every high school and college graduation a memorable event by taking them out for their choice of a special dinner with the family, and yes, they were always filled with laughter! He also loved a good discussion/debate about politics, computer games, or quantum theory!

Dick is survived by his beloved wife, Kathy, his daughter Michelle Pitts (Richard Mealor) of Lincolnton, NC, and son Michael Pitts of Melbourne, FL. Having relished many a Grandpa mug, t-shirt, or hat “to keep his bald head from getting sunburned,” he is also survived by Christopher Baker, Kaitlyn Baker, Victoria Baker (Eric Heidel), and Mackenzie Mealor. Also left with many fond and loving memories are sibling, Steven Pitts, brothers and sisters-in law, nieces and nephews, and friends.