Softball player profile: Dick Bleich

Larry Wolfe

Wesley, Iowa, is the hometown of two really good ballplayers. One, George “Showboat” Fisher, played in the major leagues in the ‘20s and ‘30s while the second, Dick Bleich, currently plays in the Sun Lakes Senior Softball League. Wesley’s a small farming community thirteen miles east of Algona in northern Iowa. Dick was a standout on Algona’s Bishop Garrigan Golden Bears’ basketball, baseball, football and track teams. As a senior, he was MVP of the football team as a bruising halfback and defensive back while also being voted Homecoming King.

Dick attended junior college for a year before enlisting in the Air Force. He served four years as an aircraft technician while stationed in Okinawa, then stateside in Omaha. Upon his discharge he returned to farming in Iowa.

After a couple years he tired of the cold weather and slow times in the winter and relocated to Arizona. He took advantage of the GI Bill to obtain a technical degree from DeVry University in Phoenix. While earning his degree he became a certified welder and later began working part-time at Intel. He was hired by Intel six months before graduating and would stay with the company for the next 19 years in various positions in the information technology department.

After accepting an early retirement buyout from Intel, Dick entered the world of finance. He earned Series Six and Seven licenses through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and became a General Securities Representative and Financial Planner. Six years later, at age 61, he retired early again!

For the past five years, Dick and Judy, his bride of 30 years, have been enjoying retirement life. They first met when Dick went back to Iowa for the 20th year celebration of the opening of Algona High. That was in July; they were married in September. Dick says, “It doesn’t take long when you find the perfect one!” They now keep busy with three kids, six grandkids and one great-grand baby. The whole clan resides in Arizona so they get to spend a lot of quality time with the family.

A top 10 batter with a .685 average this past year and long-ball hitter, Dick is one of our league’s top players. He battled a shoulder injury for a year, but now is back at full strength. He’s also planning on doing more golfing now that his shoulder woes are gone. Judy also had some health issues which slowed them down, but now they’re ready to roll again with more traveling and other activities on the horizon.

Dick enjoys do-it-yourself projects around the house and he and Judy bowl together and enjoy going out dancing. They also socialize with several Iowa couples that live in the area, but family activities are number one on their list of the things they love to do. Dick says that it’s a real joy that the whole family lives close by and that he can be Grandpa every day. Not a bad job!

P.S. For those of you used to seeing Dick with much more hair, he wanted you to know he shaved his head in support of a friend who is battling cancer.