Dr. Richard Paul Gousha, World War II veteran, distinguished educator, and proud dad and grandpa, passed away in his sleep on August 12, 2019, at the Saratoga Retirement Community in Saratoga, California. Dick, as he was known, was three weeks away from celebrating his 96th birthday. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, he lived a long and remarkable life. After graduating from Kenwood High School, he enrolled in Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio at the age of 17. When he was 19, he enlisted in the U.S. Army where he served in the 90th Infantry Division and fought in the battle for Utah Beach. He was awarded the Bronze Star for Meritorious Achievement for his service in the campaign to cross the Rhine River. After the war, he returned to Heidelberg to complete his undergraduate degree in history. Dick Gousha then set out on his education career at the age of 24, becoming a high school teacher in Bettsville, Ohio and was just 25 when he became superintendent of schools in Gilboa, Ohio. During this time, he also received his master’s degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Gilboa marked another pivotal time in his life. In 1948, his school district was visited by a representative of the Ohio Health Department. Her name was Catherine Morris. A year later, they married and eventually added two children. He served as superintendent in several Ohio school districts. In 1959, he returned to college and earned his doctorate in education at Indiana University in Bloomington.
In the years that followed, Dr. Gousha served in some of the most challenging jobs in the field of education. He became state superintendent in Delaware, where in the mid-1960’s, he successfully desegregated the state’s separate and unequal schools. He was then hired as superintendent of schools in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the 11th largest school district in the nation at that time. While there, he significantly increased the number of African American teachers and principals. He led MPS from 1967-1974, then accepted the position of dean of the school of education at Indiana University. He held that post for six years, and then returned to teaching and was a member of the IU faculty for nearly two decades.
After the death of his wife Catherine in 2002, Dr. Gousha moved from Indiana to California where he lived a full and active life. He remained a voracious reader and writer. Using speeches, letters, notes, newspaper stories, and photographs, he compiled a series of volumes detailing his life’s work in education. In addition to his love for jazz, he acquired a taste for opera. He remained a fan of the Milwaukee Brewers, faithfully checking the box scores each morning. But most of all, he enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren as they began their successful journeys in life.
Dr Gousha was preceded in death by his wife of 53 years, Catherine, and his sister, Jane Fausey. He is survived by his daughter Cathie Thermond (Jeff) of Saratoga, California, his son Mike Gousha (Lynn Sprangers) of Fox Point, Wisconsin, his grandchildren Michael Thermond and Sarah Thermond, and special friend Anne Brandenburg.
A celebration of his life will be held at a future date at the Saratoga Retirement Community. Dr. Gousha will be buried alongside his wife in southern Ohio. The family respectfully requests that memorial contributions be made to a charity of the donor’s choosing.
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