Dick Sterne’s impact will be felt for a long time to come

MIKE BURKE

Allegany Radio Corporation Sports

Dick Sterne was named the Dapper Dan Club’s Man of the Year in 1992. He was the recipient of the prestigious Henrietta Schwarzenbach Civic Service Award in 2010 and was presented with the Dapper Dan Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.

I used to like to tease Dick with each new honor and told him that the Dapper Dan must have begun creating new awards just to honor him with or, in the case of his being the recipient of the Schwarzenbach award, “Well, they’ve given it to everybody else around here; might as well let you have one.”

I loved to tease and kid with Dick, and Dick loved it as well. He loved to take a good ribbing and he loved to give it right back to me, or to anybody who happened to be in the room sharing a cold taste or few after (or during) one of the thousands of Dapper Dan Dinner meetings, whether they were in back rooms or conference rooms in the old Cas Taylors, Cotton Geatz’s or the Good Fellowship Club.

Dick loved the back and forth, the give and take. He loved the company of friends, and making new ones. He loved the camaraderie as well as being part of, and most times leading, the teamwork to achieve a common cause or to provide a worthy and helpful service.

The truth is, Dick Sterne had a heart of gold; a kind, gentle inviting manner to match, and the determination and affection in his heart to make things right and to help hundreds and thousands of youngsters as well as anybody in our community he thought might need some support and assistance.

The truth is, I loved Dick Sterne. The truth is, since my mother died in 2017, I haven’t been moved to many tears over too many things life has given us to cope with. The truth is, I sat in a local public house over one of those cold beers that Dick loved to share with his many friends and I sobbed like a child when Dick’s son Adam Sterne told me his father had died on Friday night.

I loved Dick Sterne so. And that’s because he loved this community and he loved every one of us so, and the life he lived and gave to his community was a shining example of that.

Jackie Robinson wrote, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” Dick Sterne didn’t consider himself to be anybody special, but, oh, he was wrong about that. The life Dick Sterne lived was so very special and so very important because of the impact he and his volunteerism had on so many of us here and for the way it helped inspire so many young people to follow their dreams.

Dick grew up playing sports and continued to play them into adulthood. When it was no longer possible for him to play, he coached, he administered and he volunteered for nearly every youth sports league and organization in this area. Every one of them – you can look it up.

He and his wife Jane bought the Original Sports Shoppe in 1981 and for the past 40 years have used it as their headquarters to continue the tremendous work they both have always done for this community.

I met Dick and became friends with the Sterne family through the Dapper Dan Club of Allegany County. The dinner chairman at the time, the larger than life George W. Stevenson, asked me to come to the planning meetings for the annual awards dinner to offer ideas and insights and then to report on the upcoming event for the Cumberland Times-News.

I was the Dapper Dan’s inside man at the newspaper and I loved every minute of it. Imagine being a young guy being able to hang out in smoke-filled back rooms (they were different days) of bars with the great local sports luminaries of the time – George, the great J. Suter Kegg and Clifton Van Roby, Nick Perlozzo, Clay Ingram, Rich Cioni and I could go on and on …

Dick Sterne was in those back rooms and would go on to serve as an officer in every capacity for the Dapper Dan Club, and then dinner chairman for well over 20 years when George stepped down.

To the very end, Dick always wanted the very best for the awards dinner, whether it was making connections for celebrity speakers (there were a lot more available in those days), planning the event, the venue, the menu, the transportation, the hospitality, you name it.

Dick knew where to draw the line, but he also had a hard time saying no. He wanted everybody to share in it, to contribute and to have their own big moments for their many accomplishments.

With Dick, everything was the very best because he wanted nothing but the very best for this community, and the Dapper Dan Awards Banquet has been one of our biggest and brightest evenings for over 70 years.

It became Dick’s baby, and just as Dick and his friends and contemporaries had joined in to help the older fellows serve their community in the day, so, too, now has Jane and Dick’s son, Adam, who has joined in to serve the community along with his friends and contemporaries because they were raised to know it’s the right thing to do.

The Dapper Dan, of course, is known for its work for The Children’s League and for little league baseball. But there is so much more to it than that. The Dapper Dans are there for every kind of community and youth support, be it in the form of monetary donations, fundraisers or just good, old fashioned elbow grease and volunteerism, which has long made the Dapper Dan Club of Allegany County one of the brightest lights in our community.

I used to like to tease Dick Sterne with each new honor and accolade of thanks that he received through the years, and I told him that the Dapper Dan, and all of the other organizations he was a member of and led, must have begun creating new awards just for the sake of honoring him.

The truth is, there could never be enough honors or accolades created to fully signify all of the love and care that Dick Sterne and his family have given to our community.

What an impact he made. His work is in place to continue; Dick saw to that.

We shall miss him a great deal.

Mike Burke writes about sports and a lot of other stuff for Allegany Radio and Pikewood Digital. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at mike.burke@wvradio.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT