Dick DeMello, public safety communications advocate, dies
Richard “Dick” DeMello, 59, died yesterday at his home in Portland, Mich. The cause of death was cancer. DeMello is survived by his wife, Julia; four children; and eight grandchildren.
“He was a wonderful person to work with and a real friend of the public safety community. I worked closely with him in the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council. I don’t know of anyone who was more dedicated to the cause of public safety communications than Dick. He always was one of the major players in trying to help some of us who are less technically proficient in understanding some of the issues,” said Harlin R. McEwen, chairman of the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s Communications and Technology Committee.
Robert M. Gurss, an attorney with Shook, Hardy & Bacon in Washington, added: “Dick was a guy who did far more than go to work 9 to 5. So many people who deal with policy issues forget the extra effort that people put in that they’re not paid to do. He put in a tremendous amount of time and effort on range of policy and technical issues in trying to better public safety communications for everyone.” Gurss is a member NPSTC’s Writing Group, which DeMello chaired.
Patricia Coates, second vice president, Michigan Chapter of Associated Public Safety Communications Officials and treasurer of the Region 21 700 MHz Planning Committee, said that the chapter was honored to have counted DeMello as a member and friend.
“His expert knowledge of radio spectrum issues was exceeded only by his incredible enthusiasm for resolving them. Nothing was ever too much trouble for Dick if it helped advance the cause of more effective public safety communications and interoperability. I have listened in awe to Dick’s reports over the years at chapter meetings regarding radio spectrum, which included detailed analysis of not only technical issues, but of all the political and legislative implications. He will be irreplaceable,” Coates said.
She said that, although many public safety responders probably did not know of him, DeMello’s efforts to ensure effective communications on their behalf has made their jobs safer and made safer all the citizens of Michigan that they serve.
“As the wife and mother of law enforcement officers, and as a resident of Michigan, I will always be grateful that we had Dick as our advocate,” Coates said.
A memorial service has been scheduled for June 29 at 1 p.m. at the Schrauben-Lehman Funeral Home, 210 E. Bridge St in Portland. The family has requested that donations be made, in lieu of flowers, to Ingham Hospice, 825 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing, MI 48912; the Renee Johnson Scholarship Fund, Ionia Public Schools, Attention Don Wilcox; 250 E. Tuttle Road, Ionia, MI 48846; or the donor’s favorite charity.
A registered professional engineer, DeMello was born in Weymouth, Mass., and moved to Michigan in 1968. He worked for the state government for 32 years, retiring in April 2000 after 14 years as a supervisor in the Telecommunications Division of the Department of Natural Resources.
He was a director-at-large for the Forestry-Conservation Communications Association.
DeMello was second vice-chairman of the Implementation Subcommittee of the FCC Public Safety National Coordination Committee, a federal advisory committee that serves the FCC in its decision-making involved with the 700 MHz band public safety radio spectrum allocation.
DeMello was the chairman of the Writing Group within the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council. NPSTC is a federation of associations representing public safety telecommunications. Its purpose is to follow up on the recommendations of the Public Safety Wireless Advisory Committee, to which DeMello had belonged. In addition, NPSTC acts as a resource and advocate for public safety telecommunications issues.
DeMello was an amateur radio operator; his station call sign was W8JIK.