Richard David Fissel
July 24, 1947 - April 24, 2021
Richard David Fissel, a true gentleman, died at home in Newark, Delaware on April 24, 2021 at the age of 73.
Richard is survived by his wife Mary Lu (nee Markham); children, Amy Katherine Osborn of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Megan Stewart Fissel (Megan) of College Park, Maryland and William Jordan Fissel (Marisa) of Wilmington, Delaware; several cousins, including Melinda Carlson of York, Pennsylvania and Jack Fissel of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania; nephews and a niece; and many friends met throughout his rich and interesting life. He is preceded in death by his parents, George and Blanche Fissel; his brother, William Robert Fissel; and a number of beloved aunts and uncles.
Richard was born on July 24, 1947 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was adopted as a newborn. He grew up in Williamsport, Pennsylvania and attended The Peddie School. As a child, he spent time with his maternal grandparents and other maternal relatives during summers at the Jersey Shore and significant time with his paternal relatives, including grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins at the family farm in York, Pennsylvania. Later in life, he discovered and met distant birth relatives and even toured the central Pennsylvania farm owned by his birth family.
Richard graduated from Dickinson College in 1969 with degrees in economics and political science. During the last decade, he volunteered for is alma mater, including attending college fairs in Delaware as an ambassador for the school. He spent his career in sales and marketing working for companies including H.J. Heinz, Coats and Clark, AdSat and Time Warner Business Services. As part of his profession, he travelled extensively, including to most of the western states, Japan, Hawaii and Alaska. He made friends everywhere he went.
While living in Virginia after college, he met Mary Lu Markham at a party and was immediately smitten. He often retold this story, describing Mary Lu as the most beautiful woman he had ever seen (and always adding that she still is). They were both dating other people, but Richard was patient, and upon hearing that Mary Lu was single, he asked her out. They were married in December 1978 in Virginia during an ice storm. Both animal lovers, they had many pets during their 42 year marriage.
In 1981, Richard and Mary Lu moved to Costa Mesa, California. Always considering the east coast "home," the family spent many summers visiting family in Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina. They also spent a year in Colorado Springs, Colorado in the late 1990s. The couple relocated to Newark, Delaware in 2013.
Richard suffered from Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a rare kidney disease, and received a kidney transplant in 2018. True to his nature, immediately following his diagnosis in 2012, he found a way to become involved with NephCure, an organization focused on finding a cure for FSGS and Nephrotic Syndrome. In 2015, NephCure nominated Richard to be on the Patient and Family Partnership Counsel of the Kidney Health Initiative, where he proudly served for more than 4 years. Beyond his official duties, he was always happy to help newly-diagnosed kidney disease patients navigate treatment options, dialysis and the transplant system.
Richard was a devoted father. He supported and encouraged Megan and William as they developed into adulthood, and he was so happy when Amy came back into his life. He genuinely enjoyed his relationships with his adult children and was also close to their partners and friends. Marisa Terranova Fissel and Amylia Sabin-Reed both loved him like a father and like his children, are profoundly affected by his passing.
In addition to extensive travel for work, in connection with his kidney advocacy and to visit family, there were vacations with Mary Lu, Megan and Jordan to Hawaii and a trip with Mary Lu to Japan in the 1980s. He never missed an opportunity, understanding that it may not come around again. He travelled to Las Vegas with his daughter-in-law, Marisa, in January 2019, despite terrible back pain. He was at The Borgata in Atlantic City when the casinos were closed in March 2020. He loved casinos, in part, because he loved to be around other people, and he made many trips to Las Vegas and Atlantic City. In defiance of his failing health, he went to Key West, Florida in February 2021 with his friends, Nancy Cooper and Sari Salkin, and his daughter, Amy. He was grateful to his friends Jon Cooper and Michael Luftman for enabling him to realize that travel bucket list item.
Richard will be remembered for his driving, which was even faster when he escaped the traffic of southern California and will not be terribly missed by his loved ones. Despite the fast driving, he was never on time for anything. More importantly, his friends and family will remember him for his absolute kindness. He never had a negative word to say about anyone and would do anything he could for others (be they friend or stranger). He was an incredible storyteller and had an interesting life to share.
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