In Memory of

Richard

W.

Ulbrich

Obituary for Richard W. Ulbrich

Age 82, of Weston, MA passed away on January 12, 2024 at his home after a long and courageous battle with cancer with the love of his life, Dede (Herlihy) Ulbrich, by his side.

Dick or “Doc”, as he was known to family and friends, lived his life with the gusto and grit characteristic of the German heritage of which he was so proud. Born in Boston, MA to immigrant parents, Dick was too humble to speak even to his family about his many achievements. After graduating from Wellesley High School in 1959 and Trinity College in 1963, he entered the Navy from 1964 to 1968, serving on the U.S.S. Providence. He later graduated from University of Pennsylvania dental school.

Dick moved back to Wellesley after dental school and worked for an orthodontic practice until he eventually bought that practice and made it his own. He practiced “tough love” with his patients and their parents like they were his own kids because he wanted them to succeed. He loved his career, but most of all, Dick loved and appreciated his staff that to this day, are considered part of his extended family.

Outside of work, Dick valued his family and friends above all else. He was a devoted father to his two daughters as well as his stepchildren. He taught them by example to love with a full heart, persevere through tough times and be of service to others. His girls knew that if he asked them to “go for a ride in the truck to Lechmere” that they were in big trouble. He loved cooking all of the German family recipes at holiday time, especially spaetzle and red cabbage.

He was a loving husband who became his best self after meeting and later marrying his best friend and wife, Dede. After years of living (happily) in sin, she made him an honest man in 2006. The two of them spent years running road races and then traveling throughout the United States and to Hawaii, competing in canoe and outrigger races. In his 60’s Dick was still competing in the 70-mile General Clinton regatta in upstate New York.

He had a network of friends that was the envy of everyone. He could be found on any given morning sitting in a booth with lifelong friends at the Maugus restaurant in Wellesley. He had a group of friends through his hobbies, which included road racing, paddling and woodworking.

He was a nothing short of a masterful wood carver who made gifts of love that can be found on fireplace mantels, garages and walls of friends and family everywhere. His life extended to East Falmouth, MA, where he enjoyed summer days sitting on the deck overlooking Green Pond and visiting with family on Davisville Road.

Dick gave his time and love to those in need. Whether serving as a sponsor for people on their journey in recovery or caring for his elderly mother or a friend, he took care of others. Dick spent years in his family house on Emerson Road in Wellesley, offering temporary housing to his friends when they were in the “dog house” with their wives. He later built his dream post and beam style home with Dede in Weston where everyone was welcome (as long as they didn’t wear heels or bring dogs that might scratch the wood floors). Most days he could be found carving wood in the barn by the wood stove. This was his happy place.

We are eternally grateful for the medical teams at Dana Farber and Mass General Cancer Centers, especially Dr. Austin Kim, Dr. John Yang and Dr. Theodore Hong. The doctors and nurses that cared for Dick through his battle with cancer are true angels in disguise. In his last days, the family was blessed to have the team from Good Shepherd Hospice helping care for Dick.

Dick leaves behind his wife Dede, his sister Heidi, his two daughters Kristen and Heidi, his son-in-law Mike, his stepsons Scott, Brian and Colin and his nieces Cecile and Wilhelmina. Eleven grandchildren loved their “Papa” and will miss his advice and his sassy commentary. A memorial service will be held at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Newton Lower Falls, MA on February 1, 2024 at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Dick may be made to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to support cancer research and patient care at: Dana-Farber
Cancer Institute P.O. Box 849168, Boston, MA 02284 or via dana-farber.org/gift.