Richard Dibble had muscular dystrophy from age 18 until he died Oct. 13 at age 71 from respiratory failure related to the disease.
But his widow, friends and colleagues said he never let his disability stop him from traveling, canoeing, camping, volunteering for nonprofits, and directing the Center for Human Resource Studies at the New York Institute of Technology.
“I never heard him once complain about how difficult it was, the things he couldn’t do,” said Ellen Spiegel, who served with him for decades on the board of the Bethpage-based Adults and Children with Learning and Developmental Disabilities Inc. “He never let the challenges he had stop him. He always tried to make life better for others.”
Dibble died in NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, said his widow, Jo Estrada. The couple lived in Westbury. Burial was Thursday in upstate Montour Falls Cemetery.
Estrada said one reason for her husband’s dedication to ACLD was that his physical disability gave him “a lot of empathy for anyone who had a disability, whether it was a physical or mental disability.”
He joined the developmental-disability group’s board in 1992 and served until he died, including a time as president. He also volunteered at other nonprofits.
On the ACLD board, Dibble “was very passionate in a professional, quiet, educated way to ensure the individuals who received services were spoken to in a dignified manner and received the services they needed so they could have the quality of life they deserved,” Spiegel said.
Dibble used his expertise in human-resource management to help shape policies and procedures that gave ACLD employees fair working conditions, compensation and benefits, she said.
Within a few years of joining NYIT in Old Westbury in 1980, he created the institution’s graduate program in human resource management and labor relations, and he was a professor at the institution, said William Ninehan, who worked for Dibble as director of human resource program development.
Dibble understood how policies that human resource departments help oversee and implement — such as training, compensation and promotions, and how employees are motivated, deployed and “coached” — have a major impact on the effectiveness of the businesses they work for and on the lives of employees, Ninehan said.
Dibble was part-time director at the Center for Human Resource Studies until he died, Ninehan said. He had been a full-time director and professor until 2010, Estrada said.
Dibble was born Dec. 20, 1946, in upstate Elmira and grew up primarily on a farm in the Montour Falls area, Estrada said. He earned a master’s degree from the University at Albany, another master’s degree from NYIT and a PhD from the University at Albany, Estrada said.
In addition to Estrada, 75, Dibble is survived by daughters Cristina E. Stroup of New Port Richey, Florida, and Diana E. Becker of Hewitt, New Jersey; brother Robert Dibble of Montour Falls, and sister Susan A. Dibble of Glen Ellyn, Illinois; and five grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to a scholarship fund in Dibble’s name at NYIT by going to https://apps2.nyit.edu/giving/donate/ and choosing “Dr. Dibble Scholarship” under “fund designation.”