Richard B. Olma was born Sunday, August 19, 1928, in his grandmother's house on Henry Street, in Cheektowaga, New York, but grew up on Buffalo's Polish East Side at 176 Titus Street in the former St. Luke's RC parish. He was the middle child of late William and late Virginia (nee Kajdasz) Olma. His sisters Virginia and Rosemarie both predeceased him. Another sister, Theresa died as an infant. He attended grammar school at St. Luke's, where he played baseball and other sports.
He was admitted to the prestigious Electrical Engineering program at Seneca Vocational HS. He continued his athletic pursuits in high school, playing on Seneca's Harvard Cup championship team in 1946 and earning All-High at guard. He was asked to attend a Michigan State Alumni dinner but was too small for big-time college football.
He enrolled in the Navy shortly after high school graduation in 1946. His mother reluctantly signed his enlistment form as he was only 17. After basic training, he was assigned to the Navy carriers, USS Boxer (CV 21) and USS Tarawa (CV40), where he served as an Aviation Electrician's Mate. He was discharged in 1949 and briefly attended the University of Buffalo while working with his father at the Gardenville Yard of the New York Central RR as a locomotive electrician.
He was recalled from the inactive reserve in the summer of 1951 and was assigned to Naval Station Bermuda as staff of Seaplane Patrol Squadron 49 in Bermuda for the Korean Conflict. He achieved the rank of Petty Officer, 1st class (AEM1), and was discharged in late 1952. He was recommended for reenlistment but declined. He was Honorably Discharged twice. He was awarded the Good Conduct medal and the World War II Victory medal. Dick was a long-time member of the American Legion, Adam Plewacki Post #799. He took the State Police exam on a lark and scored well enough to be hired. He was hired as a NY State Trooper on 05/01/1954. His first assignment out of the Academy was in New York City during an investigation of NYS auto bureau corruption. This work afforded him the opportunity for an early return to Western New York and skip the traditional assignment of rookies to barracks in remote parts of the state. The ranks of retired troopers who served in the old barracks system, which required them to live at the barracks, have thinned by one. He is a member of the Association of Former State Troopers, Western New York Chapter. He retired as a Senior Investigator at the Boston Substation on 12/31/1988. He also achieved the permanent civil service rank of Sargent.
He was an instructor at the NYSP Academy. He was awarded service bars for New York State Revolver Expert award for pistol marksmanship and served at the 1980 Winter Olympics. He was a part of many high-profile investigations over his years as an Investigator and Senior Investigator, such as the Joseph Christopher .22 Caliber Killer case among many others. After his retirement, he worked security for the Buffalo Bills for many years. He also finished his college degree and graduated from Buffalo State College with a BS in Criminal Justice.
Until two years ago, he spent winters in Ormond Beach, Fl with his wife, Paula, and dog Samme.
He was married for 64 years to Paula A. Failing of Cuba, NY. They met while he was stationed in Batavia and she was an RN nurse at St. Jerome's Hospital. He was the father to two sons, Gregory (Annette Juncewicz) and Gerard (Tracy Sim). He was also grandfather to Mira and Max Olma.
The family will be gathering on Thursday, August 4th, 2022 from 4-6 PM followed by a private service at the PIETSZAK FUNERAL HOME, 2400 William St. (near Harlem.) The family asks that you please follow all Covid Safety Protocols while attending the gathering. If you are not vaccinated please wear a mask. Memorials are preferred to Erie County SPCA. The family appreciates your prayers and concerns during this time and would like to thank you for your support. Please take a minute to share a picture in our online Photo Album or a favorite memory in our Guest Book here on Richard's Tribute page.
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