We remember Dick DeKorte as one of the pleasantest, kindest people in our class. He had an unflappable charm and an ease of accomplishment, whether in the classroom or in simply making friends. Dick will be remembered by the voters of the State of New Jersey as a bright, unblemished hope for that state's murky politics.
Sadly for us all, Dick DeKorte died of cancer on March 16, at his home in Franklin Lakes, N.J. You will remember that Dick's father, John I. DeKorte, was mayor of Franklin Lakes when we were together at Amherst. Dick himself became mayor of his hometown in 1967.
From then on, the political honors followed in rapid succession. Dick became a state assemblyman, assembly majority leader, counsel to former N.J. Governor William T. Cahill, head of the State Energy Office and chairman of the N.J. State Bicentennial Commission.
Everybody, including The New York Times, thought that Dick would be the next Republican governor of New Jersey. Dick was a liberal, untarnished by the corruption scandals that plague New Jersey politics.
Dick returned to the private practice of law after Governor Cahill lost the Republican primary in 1973, but that was a brief retirement. In-coming Democratic Governor Brendan Byrne asked Dick to run the state's gasoline allocation plan during the Arab oil boycott. Dick was on television every night, it seemed, as he steered New Jersey through the imposition of odd-even license-plate gasoline allocation. This was the first major achievement of the Democratic Byrne administration, due to the efforts of Republican Dick DeKorte. Dick left his Energy Office job last year and returned again to private practice with the Paterson firm of Jeffer, Walter, Tierney, DeKorte, Hopkinson & Vogel.
Dick graduated cum laude from Amherst; he was president of Beta Theta Pi his senior year. He took his law degree at the University of Chicago.
Dick is survived by his wife Paulette; his three sons, Richard Jr., James, and Jeffrey, and his daughter Suzanne; and his mother and two brothers.