By: Beverly Koski
Richard and Helen March have shared a life together for 63 years even though they were born an ocean apart. Richard was born and raised in New York City, whereas Helen was born in Glasgow, Scotland.
When she was three years old her family moved to Corby, a small town in England with a grand new steel plant where her father, who was a metallurgist, was employed along with many other transplants from Scotland. There she was raised and lived through World War II.
When Helen was 20 years told, her father took a position with U.S. Steel in Pittsburgh, PA. Although she was trained in the culinary arts at college in England, her educational background was not recognized in the U.S., and so she took a job with U.S. Steel also, working in the human relations department for eight years before retiring to rear their three children.
Richard obtained engineering degrees from Clarkson University and Northwestern University graduate school and then joined the Atomic Energy Commission in Chicago. This was in 1951. There were no nuclear engineering courses in universities at that time, so the AEC created one in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Richard was sent there. Since graduation, he has always considered himself to be a nuclear engineer. He subsequently joined the Navel Nuclear Propulsion Program under Admiral H.G. Rickover and moved to Pittsburgh where work was underway on the first atomic powered submarine, the SSN Nautilus. He was subsequently involved in many of the naval propulsion programs, as well as the first civilian atomic plant, which was built just outside Pittsburgh under the direction of the naval program.
Richard’s and Helen’s journey together began when they met in Pittsburgh and were married in 1954. Although they have moved several times, their primary home has always been in the Pittsburgh area. They return there during the summer where they can visit with their children, who are nearby, as well as grandchildren and other relatives.
Eventually, in 1972, Helen had decided to go back to work part time and took a job with a firm, which is now called ANSYS, Inc. Richard left the naval program after over 30 years and joined Helen at the same company. ANSYS develops and sells an engineering program used by many companies around the world. Helen was the Contract Administrator, while Richard was charged with developing a network of distributors to sell and support the program around the world.
After retiring, they took a trip along the west coast of Florida and discovered Longboat Key. By coincidence they had friends who were familiar with Longboat and decided to rent a condo for a few weeks in the winter. Not long after, in 1996, they purchased a condo there. They had friends at Plymouth Harbor and have been visiting for years until they decided three years ago to get on the list and await an apartment.
Along the way, Helen had an interest in embroidery and cooking…she even took a cooking class in Italy and learned to make tiramisu. Early on, she was involved with PTA and Girl Scouts. Both Richard’s and Helen’s interests include Sarasota Ballet, photography, reading, bridge, and travel (favorites are China and Italy).
When asked their plans for the future, Richard replied, “To do only what we choose to do. We had a good and successful life and we are grateful to be in a good place, to enjoy life here at Plymouth Harbor.”