When Dick Radloff found out that the gymnasium in the Gwinnett County middle school that bore his wife’s name would be named for him, his first reaction was “Why me?”
“The amazing thing is, he’s really done so much,” said Louise Radloff, his wife of 57 years and a Gwinnett County school board member for 41 years. “He’s been behind the scenes, supporting me. He’s been my silent partner.”
The Radloffs moved to Gwinnett in 1970. A short time later when Louise Radloff decided she wanted to run for the school board, Dick Radloff didn’t object.
“He told me to do what I needed to do to help the children,” Louise Radloff said. “And he’s been there the whole time.”
Richard “Dick” Radloff of Gwinnett County died June 18 of complications from cancer. He was 83. A memorial service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday in the gym that bears his name at Radloff Middle School. His ashes will be buried at a later date. Bill Head Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
It was his job with the former Western Electric Co. that brought the Radloff family to the Atlanta area. A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Radloff graduated from the University of Buffalo with a degree in labor and industrial relations. He spent 33 years with Western Electric, which became part of AT&T and later Lucent Technologies, his wife said.
But it was the work that did with his wife that many Gwinnett residents remember, said Julie Crosby, pastor of St. James Lutheran Church in Norcross.
“Louise told me that whatever she was able to achieve was because he was her stability and encouragement,” Crosby said. “And he was an encourager of others, too. Anything he thought he could do for others, he would do.”
Patty Heitmuller, who was the first principal of Radloff Middle School, said it was Dick Radloff’s willingness to do what he could to help his wife that inspired the naming of the gymnasium in his honor.
“It was an opportunity to recognize the partnership that Mr. and Mrs. Radloff have,” said Heitmuller, who retired as principal of Radloff Middle in 2011. “While her name is on the ballot, it has really been their partnership that has benefited the Gwinnett community. We felt like he should know that people treasured him as much as they treasured Mrs. Radloff.”
The gym was an appropriate choice, Heitmuller said, because Radloff was quite an athlete in Fredonia, N.Y., where he was born and reared.
In addition to his wife, Radloff is survived by sons Richard Radloff of Texas, Gregg Radloff of Sugar Hill and Doug Radloff of Dacula; five grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.