The Obit For Dick Hoot

Richard S. Hoot
(Died February 16, 2013)

White-Luttrell Funeral Homes, ltd.
February 26, 2013

Richard S. "Dick" Hoot, 87, a lifelong Swarthmorean and well-known figure around town, died Saturday after an extended illness.
An outstanding high school and college athlete, Dick was quarterback for one of the best football teams Swarthmore High School ever fielded. The Delaware County Daily Times gave this report of the first game of the 1942 season, a 19-0 shutout of Darby:

Hoot was the mainspring of the ballgame…. Hoot called the plays, did all the booting, at least half the passing, and found time to score two touchdowns and toss a lateral to [his teammate] for the other marker.

In his senior year, Dick also captained the basketball team and won the long jump at the PIAA state track championship, graduating with 9 varsity letters.

Like many of his 1943 classmates, Dick joined the Navy’s V-12, officer/college training program. In 1944, he studied at Villanova, where, as quarterback, he led the team to a 6-1 season. The Navy then sent him to Tulane where he was an outstanding running back for three years, before graduating with an education degree.

At Tulane, Dick also played basketball and baseball, and met a lifelong friend, then-medical student Bobby Brown. Brown famously moonlighted as a player for the New York Yankees between 1947 and 1954, appearing in four World Series while obtaining his medical degree at Tulane, and later becoming President of the American League. The two remained in touch through cards and telephone calls, and Dick arranged for Brown to send personal notes to young Swarthmore baseball fans. Dr. Brown recalls Dick fondly, particularly his outstanding football career at Tulane. According to Brown, whenever Dick went into a game, the stadium would ring with chants of “Hoot!”

After graduating from Tulane, Dick was signed by the Philadelphia Athletics and played several years of minor league baseball in the Carolina League. He kept a framed copy of his 1949 contract, which included a $300 signing bonus and $200 per month pay.

When his baseball career ended, Dick worked for Sun Oil, but remained an avid sports fan and golfer.

A third generation Swarthmorean, Dick lived at the corner of Lafayette and Princeton Avenues for almost 80 years. In 1917, after the untimely death of her husband, Dick’s grandmother purchased the house and opened a nursery school to support her five young children. The eldest of these was Dick’s mother, Alice Fricke. She married Henry Irvin Hoot, a 1919 graduate of Swarthmore College, and they raised Dick, his three sisters and brother in the Lafayette Ave. home. Dick stayed on in the house until moving to a Park Avenue apartment in 2005. In 2007, Dick was delighted when his former neighbors issued a proclamation naming him the Honorary Mayor of Lafayette Avenue.

Dick loved Swarthmore and sharing stories about his home town. He knew George Earnshaw, a Swarthmore resident and ace pitcher for the 1930s Philadelphia Athletics; according to Dick, Earnshaw drove around town in a fur coat and expensive car during his major league days, but later became president of the fire company. Dick remembered walking his neighbor and classmate Alice “Putty” Willets to kindergarten when she had first-day-of-school jitters. And Dick recalled working for 20 cents an hour as a "soda jerk" and delivery boy for Michael's Pharmacy in the early 1940s; at 16, he got his driver's license and made late-night sandwich and malt deliveries to Swarthmore College students.

Dick attended Swarthmore United Methodist Church, rarely missing a Sunday; he presented a dapper figure in his straw hat and blue blazer. A charming rogue and incorrigible flirt, he enjoyed chatting with one and all as he made his daily rounds of the shops and bank downtown. To the end, he took a keen interest in his fellow Swarthmoreans, cheering on local athletes, and assuring female friends that it had made his day just to see them.

Dick Hoot was predeceased by his parents and sisters Mary Ellen (Polly) Hoot Lawrence, Nancy Hoot Sells, and Helen Hoot Ozman.

Survivors: his daughters, of whom he was very proud, Lindie Hoot Merritt (William, deceased) and Laurie Hoot Capon (Richard); his brother Wilbur Irvin Hoot; his granddaughters, Kelly Merritt Roten (Russell) and Alexandra R. Gurevitz; a great-grandson William McConnell Roten; and many loving nieces and nephews.

Service: 10 AM Saturday, March 2 at Swarthmore United Methodist Church.

Visitation: After 9 AM at church.