LCdr Richard Michael Kulak, USCG (RET)

LCdr Kulak Goldsboro - Richard Michael Kulak, 73, passed away on Saturday (July 7, 2012) at his home.

Richard was born in Brooklyn, New York on July 8, 1938 to the late Gregory and Agatha B. Kulak. He retired from the United States Coast Guard with 24 years of service and served his country during the Vietnam War. Richard volunteered for many years at Wayne Memorial Hospital and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Hospital. He had been a member of the Goldsboro Kiwanis Club.

Funeral services will be held Friday, July 13, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. in the chapel of Timothy E. Ryan Funeral Home in Jackson, NJ. Burial will follow in St. Vladimir Cemetery.

Richard is survived by his sister, Anna Kuntzevich of Bloomingdale, NJ; and several nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the Volunteer Service Program at Wayne Memorial Hospital, 2700 Wayne Memorial Drive, Goldsboro, NC 27534.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at

Mr. Kulak was a 1960 graduate of the SUNY Maritime College. The following is a remembrance of Dick from their alumnus news.


Dick Kulak, Class of ’60, passed on to greater glory on July 7, 2012. He will be remembered for a great many years for his generosity to future cadets at Fort Schuyler with his bequest of $100,000 to the FSMAA for a cadet scholarship endowment.

Those who knew Kulak will always remember his generosity, loyalty, wit, integrity and strength of character. What seems to be the most common description of Dick by his Fort Schuyler classmates is this: “A source of joy”. One can hardly think of a more perfect way to be thought of.

“It all started with the alphabet”, recalls Sorie Knox, Kulak’s’s four-year roommate. “Kn” and “Ku” were together on a piece of paper, causing Knox and Kulak to be together for four years as roommates - and over fifty years as friends. Sorie speaks of Dick’s skill in math, engineering, mechanical drawing, and repairing just about anything. “It was easy to share a room with Dick”, says Knox; “he was kind, smart, and had a gift for joke-telling that put everyone around him at ease”. The roommates’ families became like extended families to each another over the years. Sorie is grateful for his lucky alphabetical twist of fate and for the joy of being friends with Dick Kulak.

Classmate Gary Raffaele recalls how Kulak loved to regale any audience with a good yarn, and debate the subtle differences between a fairy tale and a sea story. For all of Dick’s natural mathematical ability, he was not as blessed when it came to the subject of Spanish. Indeed, while he breezed through the classes relevant to his degree and license, it was Spanish that caused him so much trouble that he missed his first-class cruise with his classmates aboard the EMPIRE STATE III. He made it up aboard the EMPIRE STATE IV in the summer of 1960. One Kulak sea story from that 1960 cruise goes as follows: While underway on the open ocean, someone on deck shouted, “Man overboard!” A deck officer quickly ordered nearby cadets, including Dick, to immediately man and lower a lifeboat to assist in the search. After an unsuccessful hour, the officer called the bridge to ask the name of the man overboard. To everyone’s surprise, the response was “Dick Kulak”, to which Kulak piped up, “That be me!” That phrase followed Dick for a long time, bringing smiles all around. Fortunately, the “man overboard” emergency was a false alarm.

Ralph Brescia adds to the memories, “As we move along in life, certain things become more valuable to us”. Ralph shares the story of his looking for his copy of the “Eight Bells / Our Heritage” yearbook. When Kulak became aware of this, he immediately sent his spare copy, looking for nothing in return except for a chance to share a chat at the reunion.

Classmate Ken Bishop recalls their time at USCG OCS where Dick’s sense of humor kept everybody on their toes. Ken even fondly recalls how they were put on report for “shooting pool during study hour.” Ken tells the quintessential Kulak story about manual of arms practice on the roof of the Fort in the hot sun; apparently, the sun was so hot that it caused the tar on the deck to become like soft glue between it and the rifle butt. Kulak’s description of trying to “right face” with his rifle, while trying to continue unnoticed by officers, was pure slapstick. These two Coast Guard colleagues remained lifelong friends.

Jerry Achenbach, Class of ’86, shares his experiences with Kulak when the USCG asked for Dick to return to active duty in the 1990s to assist with the training of Marine Inspectors. He was viewed as a true professional, very respected, and always eager to assist the younger officers Behind the jokes and under the wit, Dick Kulak had a wisdom, maturity and inner strength to be emulated. While suffering with health problems in his later life, he told very few. This is a difficult concept to imagine in today’s trend of over-sharing. However, Dick Kulak would have much rather exerted his energy by offering support to someone else, than share his own struggles with anyone. When people think of Dick Kulak, they will only smile.

Richard “Dick” Michael Kulak was born in Brooklyn, New York on July 8, 1938 to the late Gregory and Agatha B. Kulak. After graduating Brooklyn Tech, Dick found his way to SUNY Maritime College at Fort Schuyler. He was among the first groups to substantially build up the Pershing Rifles. Graduating Fort Schuyler in 1960 marked the first of Dick’s family to graduate from college. Upon graduation, he entered USCG OCS along with two classmates. The CG motto ‘Semper Paratus’ was an apt motto for Dick Kulak. He retired from the USCG after 24 successful years of service, and served his country during the Vietnam War. Upon retirement, Dick built his home in North Carolina. Dick volunteered for many years at Wayne Memorial Hospital and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Hospital. He also volunteered at the Wayne County Board of Elections, and had been a member of the Goldsboro Kiwanis Club. He was particularly fond of his nephew, his neighbors, this country and his friends and experiences at Fort Schuyler. Dick is survived by his sister Anna Kuntzevich of Bloomingdale, NJ, and several nieces and nephews.

The interment services were dignified and moving, and highlighted Dick’s patriotism and loyalty. A USCG Honor Guard stood tall, and TAPS played proudly. Flowers from the Class of ’60, compliments of classmate Ron Rasmus, reflected the respect he had earned from his “Fort Schuyler family” of over fifty years. Memories of friends, classmates and colleagues filled the room, while classmates Sorie Knox, Jack Ferrara and Charlie Hoffman were in attendance.

By Bridget Bendo ’96

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