Those who knew Richard Fadem best describe him as a man of many talents.
An inventor and Navy veteran with a degree in mechanical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, family members said Fadem used his creative and mechanical skills in a wide variety of ways.
“He had all kinds of solutions to things around the house that wouldn’t have necessarily occurred to anyone else,” his stepdaughter Lesley Rosenthal, 52, of Scarsdale, said with a laugh, remembering when Fadem helped one of his granddaughters design a catapult for a high school science project.
Fadem died April 29 at his Roslyn Heights home of complications from a stroke. He was 87.
Born May 20, 1929, in St. Louis to parents Edward and Sarah Fadem, Richard Fadem enlisted in the Navy in 1951 after his senior year of college, training as a shipboard electronics expert. Fadem served across the world in his four service years, including in the Arctic Circle.
After being honorably discharged in 1955, Fadem married Harriet Zuckerman in 1956 in Valley Stream. They later divorced.
Aside from designing systems for Airborne Instruments Laboratory, Raytheon and Applied Digital Data Systems, he also worked for the Israeli defense industry during the 1970s before returning to the United States to develop several inventions, such as a multi-user serial bus system, for which he obtained several patents.
However, family members remembered Fadem’s softer side and his devotion to being active in politics as a member of the League of Women Voters, creating stained-glass designs for his family and friends and playing music with them.
“Sitting around without a goal was nothing he would do. He liked being active,” said his daughter, Rosalie Fadem, 54, of Brooklyn, who fondly remembered her father’s passions. “He was curious about the world, about new things and being adventurous. He wanted to know how things worked.”
“The things that he cared about, the people he cared about, he threw himself into them a thousand percent,” Rosenthal said. “Because of the size of his brain, his convictions and his heart, there was never any doubt about where he stood.”
He is survived by his second wife, Nancy Fadem of Roslyn Heights; daughters Diana Brewster of Asheville, North Carolina, and Rosalie Fadem of Brooklyn; stepchildren Joy Fallick of East Northport, Gary Friedman of Port Washington, Lesley Rosenthal of Scarsdale and Kenny Friedman of Huntington; and six grandchildren.
Services were held April 30 at Temple Judea in Manhasset. Funeral services with military memorial honors took place May 1 at Wellwood Cemetery in Pinelawn.