Richard John Britanik, Sr.

Born: Braddock, PA on 28 April 1932

Passed away: Oro Valley, AZ on 04 February 2018

Aged: 85 years

Funeral Date: 11 April 2018

Service Details

Graveside Memorial Service - Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at 10:00am
Holy Hope Cemetery
3555 N. Oracle Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85705

The Story

Richard John Britanik, Sr., of Oro Valley, AZ, died at home on Sunday, February 4, 2018. Richard was 85.

Richard was born in Braddock, PA on April 28, 1932, the firstborn of John Milan Britanik and Mary Tomko. He grew up in Braddock and North Braddock, and even though his family did not have much, he enjoyed a very happy childhood. Activities included building model airplanes and fitting them with motor parts, Sunday trips to a park where there was a field to fly the model planes, fishing with his dad, ice skating, roller skating, and car maintenance. Richard (also known as "Dick" by his family and friends, and later as "Rich"), was educated in the St. Thomas schools in Braddock. He received the 8th Grade Rotary Award given for scholarship, leadership, and citizenship, was a class officer during high school, and worked at a drug store and a gas station. He graduated from St. Thomas High School in 1950.

After graduation from high school, Richard worked in a lumbar yard and attended Saturday night dances held at Hartman Junior High. During one of these dances in January, 1952, he met the love of his life and began a courtship with Joan Safran. They dated and spent time with friends, going to movies, bowling, and dances at the outdoor ballroom in Kennywood Park. When the Korean War broke out, and prior to being drafted, Richard entered the Air Force in December, 1952. He and Joan continued their courtship and on April 24, 1954, were married at St. William Catholic Church in East Pittsburgh, PA.

Richard, who became known as "Brit", served in the Air Force for 20 years. He worked on planes on the flight line and was trained in the field of metrology, the calibration of instruments. Besides his tours of duty, including French Morocco, he was stationed in Savannah, GA, where Rick, Jr. and David were born, then Tampa, FL, where Tony and Stephanie were born. Next it was on to San Vito dei Normanni, Italy, where John was born (actually in Tripoli, Libya). The last station was in Chicopee, MA, where Richard retired from the Air Force on December 31, 1972. Richard enjoyed time with his wife and family and shared activities he had enjoyed in childhood, such as fishing and model airplanes, as well as photography, trips to the shooting range, model railroading, and Saturday morning pancakes and cartoons. "Brit and Joanie", along with their growing family, had many adventures together during their Air Force years and made several lasting friendships.

Richard started civilian life with a job at Gould - Ocean Systems Division in Cleveland, OH, where he worked in the metrology lab, ultimately as lab manager, as well as a quality manager, until his retirement in 1993. During his time at Gould (which later became Westinghouse), he completed an associate degree in professional management at John Carroll University. He and Joan had the pleasure of owning their own home, where Richard put his "Mr. Fix-It" skills to good use, spending time on projects and "puttering" in the basement for relaxation.

In June, 1997, Richard and Joan "went west" with a move to Oro Valley, AZ. "Black Bart and Calamity Jane" enjoyed exploring Arizona together and decorating their home and yard with local artwork, pottery, and plants. Richard continued his long time interest in photography, enjoying outdoor photography as well as indoor projects, and joined two photography clubs, where he submitted several prize-winning photos. In later years, he still enjoyed browsing through various photography magazines and books, keeping up with family and friends, the news, weather, and football (especially Clemson), watching westerns, and of course, "chocolate cake".

Richard was a quiet man, kind and gentle even in childhood, a generous man, neat, hard-working and resourceful, had many skills, an "artistic eye", and good sense of humor. He was a devoted and loving husband, father, and grandfather and words cannot express how much he is missed.

Richard is survived by his wife Joan; children Richard (Karen) Britanik, Jr. of The Woodlands, TX, David (Kerry) Britanik of Makakelo, HI, Anthony Britanik of Oro Valley, AZ, Stephanie (Thomas) Stage of South Euclid, OH, and John (Lana) Britanik of Tucson, AZ; grandchildren Monica (James) Jacobi of Los Angeles, CA, Andrea Britanik of The Woodlands, TX, and Ian Britanik; sister Mary Margaret Schildknecht of Canonsburg, PA; sister-in-law Marcene Franz of Oro Valley, AZ; brothers-in-law James Franz of Oro Valley, AZ and Anthony Safran, Jr. of Tucson, AZ; and his cousins, nieces, and nephews.

Richard was preceded in death by his parents, John and Mary Britanik; brother Ronald Britanik; sister-in-law Donna Safran; and brothers-in-law William Schildknecht, Sr. and Patrick Safran, Sr.

A graveside memorial service is scheduled for Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. at Holy Hope Cemetery, 3555 N. Oracle Rd., Tucson, AZ.
Light a Candle

Upload Photos

Share a photo on the memorial with or without a message.


Upload music file

Upload a music file with or without your message on the memorial.


Share a music video link

Share a music video link with or without your message from Youtube, Dailymotion or Vimeo.

Share a video from the web

Share a video link with or without your message from Youtube, Dailymotion or Vimeo.

A poem Stephanie came across last year:

We thought of you with love today,
But that is nothing new.
We thought about you yesterday,
And days before that too.
We think of you in silence,
We often speak your name.
Now all we have is memories,
And your picture in a frame.
Your memory is our keepsake,
With which we'll never part.
God has you in His keeping,
We have you in our hearts.

The Britanik Family


Dear Dad,

You have been on my mind a lot this week. On April 11, it was a year since your memorial service. Wednesday, it would have been yours and Mom’s 65th wedding anniversary. And yesterday, April 28, 2019, would have been your 87th birthday. I miss you just as much as ever.

I viewed your Beautiful Tribute site today and cried again through all the photos and through Ian’s tribute to you, playing “Taps” on his trumpet (which John posted on YouTube). I wrote your “Story” – your tribute – but at the time just couldn’t get all the words out, verbally or written, for something more personal.

I read again what Rick, Dave, and John wrote and realized afresh what an impact you had on your children. I see characteristics of you in all my brothers. And you would be proud of Tony. He continues to take good care of Mom. He takes good care of me, too, when I am there visiting.

Mom misses you more than she can verbalize, but continues to be a real trooper. She is thankful for how well you took care of her, both during your life and after your death, because of your planning. And that beautiful new walk-in shower was a real gift, Dad. I remember that even in the last weeks of your life, you were concerned about your wife and children.

The “Seesters” and siblings still enjoy their card games together and Mom gets her share of being a “weiner”. But we miss you in your chair, overseeing the merriment.

I think of you during the different seasons and remember how you enjoyed flowers, and the leaves changing in the Fall, and just nature in general – the outdoor photos you took, as well as the cool “abstracts”. One of my favorite pictures of you is you with your camera, standing in the middle of a red poppy field. I miss talking to you on the phone and you teasing Tom and I about having to rake leaves or shovel snow.

Rick spoke of your various roles as a husband, father, and grandfather (you were also a loving son, brother, uncle, and friend). As your only daughter, I had a unique relationship with you, Dad. Along with Mom, you were instrumental in my growing up as a “feminine female” (amidst 4 brothers). You left me with some very special memories:

Taking me to the St. Patrick’s Day Father-Daughter Dance in elementary school (complete with flower corsage); Valentine’s Day candy and cards; Flower corsages for Easter and special occasions; Being “Dad’s Photo Studio” model; Helping me build a Morse code device for a school project; Your apologies when in the wrong; Being your “Handyman Helper”; “Knee-bend” fun (bending the back of our knees, without warning, when Mom or I were working at the kitchen sink); Driving test practice – acting as a “human cone” for me to maneuver around; “Car Ownership 101” before and after the purchase of my first car; Walking me down the aisle on my wedding day; Going to the metro park with Tom and I in the Fall (with camera, of course!); Your surprise gift of a music box (purchased while you and Mom were showing me around Tucson) - You gave it to me when we were back home in the kitchen, and when it played “You Are My Sunshine”, I cried, and you gave me a “Dad hug”; Your generous gifts of “travel money” when flying back home to Ohio; And I can still hear you say “Thank you, Sweetheart”……….And I want a “Dad hug”……….

I still thank God for you, Dad. You were a good father, who was there for his family. You were an example of commitment in marriage and commitment to your family.

Dad, it is right to honor someone who lived almost 86 years – but even more so for a man who lived a life worthy of honor.

I love you, Dad!

With Much Love,
“Your Little Girl”

The Britanik Family


Ian's tribute to Grandpa - playing Taps on his trumpet.

John Britanik shared a video.



John Britanik


Dear Family,

I’d like to share a few words about Dad with you.

I remember Dad was always doing something. You never really saw Dad just doing nothing when he was well. He had some really neat hobbies, especially in the eyes of a kid. He built and flew model airplanes. I remember going out with him to a big field and watching him fly them. Dad let us kids fly them too, when we were old enough. I remember always flying them into the ground when it was my turn. But boy was it fun!

I remember Dad taking us kids fishing. He loved to fish and had all the gear for it. It was a hobby that Dad passed on to us kids and I think we all really enjoyed it.

Dad also liked to go shooting with his friends. I remember going to the skeet range with Dad and watching him blast the clay pigeons out of the sky with his shotgun. He was a good shot. I had to hold my ears when he was shooting, but that was really cool! I remember watching Dad shoot rats in the garbage pit near out house in Italy. He would just lay on the ground and patiently wait. When the rats came running across, POW! Dad would nail them. I never saw him miss. I also remember listening to Dad tell stories about shooting jack rabbits in Colorado before I was born.

But I think photography was Dad’s favorite and most enduring hobby. I remember Dad teaching himself all the basic techniques through a correspondence course and going to classes. He took photography very seriously and paid close attention to all the different settings and lighting. He became very skilled at it. It was because of Dad that I became interested in photography. I didn’t have the patience to become as skilled as Dad, but I think I enjoyed it just as much. I remember always talking about cameras with Dad. Whenever we visited, he would break out his latest gear and tell me all about it. I remember Dad using his projector to show us his pictures. He had a passion for all things related to photography. I was fortunate to have been able to share that with him and to have had the opportunity to learn from his experience and expertise.

When Dad wasn’t involved in one of these hobbies, I remember he was always down in the basement “putzing” around, as he would call it, with some electronic or woodworking project. I remember he was always standing in front of his workbench with his cigar in his mouth. When you asked him what he was doing, he was always happy to tell you all about it.

I remember Dad could fix just about anything. If something broke – no need to worry – Dad would fix it. I even remember Dad on the roof of the house fixing the chimney.

I remember when Dad did something, he always did it right. You wouldn’t get anything “half-assed” out of Dad. He was very patient and did it right the first time and always did a good job.

I remember sensing a feeling of confidence in everything Dad did. If things didn’t go right, Dad would just take care of it. He was decisive in what he did but always had a “plan B.” I remember driving from Massachusetts to Pittsburgh with Dad. It was just me and him. We were in the VW Bus loaded down with bunkbeds and other stuff. It was early on a Sunday morning in the 70’s during the gas shortages. We were near the top of a mountain on the PA turnpike and the bus began sputtering and running out of gas. I remember Dad coaxing the bus for another 100 feet of so until we reached the top. And then we coasted down the mountain for several miles and pulled into a gas station that had just opened. Dad got out of the bus and filled it with gas like he had planned it that way.

I remember Dad always looked sharp. He always took his time getting ready to go out. He wouldn’t go out until everything was neat and tidy. Of course, we were always running late for church on Sunday morning, but Dad always looked good!

Dad could be very serious and when he was, you knew he meant business. But Dad also liked to have fun and relax. I remember when Dad was working, he would come home after work and have a shot of Scotch with Mom. They would talk and laugh and carry on. When we would go to Pittsburgh and visit family, you could always hear Dad laughing and enjoying himself. It was the same way when folks visited our house. Whether it was family or the local priest, there was always lots of laughter in the house. It was a fun thing to just listen in.

I remember when you would go out to dinner with Dad it was always a three hour event. He loved to take his time and relax, talk and enjoy eating. And Dad always paid for everything.

When I look back at all the good things about Dad, I realize how lucky I am, how fortunate I was to have benefited from them, and how they shaped my life in many positive ways. Dad wasn’t the type to sit down with you and tell what was best for you. Instead, he showed you by example throughout his life. When I think about it, a lot of things I have succeeded with I owe, in some way, to Dad’s fine example. He was a good man and I will miss him dearly.

David Britanik

Richard Britanik


I would like to share a few highlights about my Dad in his roles as a man, husband,
father, and grandfather.

As a man he was a humble, down-to-earth, straightforward type of guy. He got along
with everyone and would not hesitate to help out a stranger or neighbor in need
with a car or house problem. He had a sense of humor for nearly every situation and
loved to talk about his life experiences when we watched war movies and

As a husband, he was happily married for nearly 64 years. This required a great
deal of love, patience, hard work and compromising especially when raising a large
family. I grew up in this environment and his example greatly influenced my
marriage and family life.

As a father, he had to spread his time across 5 kids up to 10 years apart in age and
he did it well. He was the technical expert when helping us with our homework in
math and science. He helped us learn essential life skills by letting us help him with
his carpentry, plumbing and car repair projects. He was very proud of his tools and
always eager to demonstrate their use and safety concerns. He also taught us that
life was not all work and introduced us to his many hobbies such as fishing,
photography, model planes and trains.

As a grandfather he was extremely proud of his grandchildren Monica, Andrea and
Ian. They gave him great joy and it was a great joy for us to see him interact with
the kids. The summer visits and cross-country trips made a lasting impression on
them and they continue to talk about it to this day.

There were many medical challenges over the last several years, but Dad always
managed to keep his good spirit and sense of humor through it all. He will be
greatly missed.

Richard John Britanik Jr.

Richard Britanik


Memories of Dad from the perspective of his youngest son

Dad set the bar high on what it means to be a good father and a good person, with
his thoughtfulness, his peaceful disposition, his patience, and his love.

Dad believed strongly that a father should provide for his family, and he worked hard
in support of that belief.
He was up early in morning, and he left for work before us kids went to school.

He would come home in the afternoon and stand in the kitchen, reading the paper to unwind.
He especially liked reading the funnies.
I would be home from school and usually in the family room on the couch watching tv.
Dad would come in and stand behind me and laugh himself to tears watching Bugs Bunny
cartoons or especially his favorite, Tom & Jerry.

Often Dad would grab a cigar (or cee-gar as he called it) and go down in the basement to

[Part of Dad's sense of humor was to intentionally mispronounce words, like cee-gar (cigar),
yose-mite sam (Yosemite Sam), and pooniac (pontiac)]

In addition to his photography hobby, Dad loved wood-working and electronics projects.
He could usually be found down in the basement fixing something, or doing a wood-working
or electronics project, or cleaning his cameras.
One time he would be building something out of wood, like the divider wall in the basement
or a desk for me in my room – a desk I still use everyday. Other times he would be working with electronics, like building a battery charger for one of his camera flash units or fixing something else electrical.
I remember when Dad modified the living room tv cart, adding a wood platform and a
ball-bearing swivel so we could watch our new color tv from both the couch and the dining
Dad was creative - He always had good ideas.

Dad was my mentor.
Many times I would be down in the basement with him (where Dad had the coolest tools).
I learned a lot about "fixing stuff" from watching him in the basement.
He was patient with me, and he often told me about what he was doing, and how to do it right.

When I was little, he gave me my own toolbox with a hammer and screwdriver so I could have
cool tools just like him. He gave me some scrap wood and a bunch of screws and nails and
let me have at it. As I got a little older my interests turned to electronics, and he gave
me wires, switches, light bulbs and a battery holder to play with and showed me how it all
worked. Later on he taught me how to solder on some old scrap circuit boards, and he gave
me my own electronics toolbox, so I could have cool tools just like Dad.
I was hooked and eventually went on to study electrical engineering in college - all because
my Dad had patience and took the time to share his knowledge with me while he was putsying in the basement.

I graduated with my Masters from Cleveland State and it came time for me to leave the nest
to pursue further studies at the University of Arizona. Having a son of my own now has
afforded me some perspective on how hard that must have been for Dad. He stayed home from work that August day when I left, making sure I was going to be OK and prepared for a safe trip. After all, I was driving diagonally across the country, from Cleveland to Tucson,
in a beater Pontiac with a rusted rear frame and a bouncing bumper to go with it.
But Dad let me go. He let me follow my dreams.

Being the loving father he was, he took off work and came out to Tucson to check on me a couple of months later in October. He ate the meals I cooked, like shake-n-bake chicken and rice, omelets, and mac-n-cheese and beef - All staples of the graduate student's diet. He even drove my beater Pontiac up to Mount Lemmon and back. Dad was a brave man!

Even as I was pursuing an advanced engineering degree, I was still learning more from
Dad. When I was living in my first home in Tucson, I had major shower "issues". Dad
showed me how to solder copper pipe in the wall, the right way, without burning the house
down in the process. As always, Dad had good ideas, helping me figure out how to get the new valves installed.

Now after his passing, I'm still learning to be a better person from Dad, my mentor, through reflection on the lessons he taught, the examples he set, and his thoughtfulness, his peaceful disposition, his patience, and his love.

John Britanik