By J. PATRICK PEPPER
HEIGHTS — An eagerness to help others, overwhelming civic pride and whip-smart witticisms are just some of the things for which former U.S. Rep. Richard A. Young (D-Taylor) will be remembered.
Young, 82, died Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, at Karmanos Cancer Center in Detroit after succumbing to a three-year battle with colon cancer.
His career in Lansing began in 1965 when he was elected as a Democratic representative serving Dearborn Heights. As a lawmaker Young left his mark on some of the most influential pieces of legislation enacted during his more than 30-year tenure in office.
In a profile piece written in 1992, Young, a former city treasurer, cited his role in reforming the justice of the peace system into the district court system as his most significant legislative achievement. But he also relished bringing home the bacon for his district.
Among the initiatives in which Young played a major role was the installation of a sprinkler system at Warren Valley Golf Course and the merging of three school districts. The University of Michigan-Dearborn also grew to become one of the highest-funded universities in the state under his persistent lobbying efforts.
On the heels of his retirement from the Legislature in 1994, Young was recognized for his contributions to Dearborn Heights when the Richard A. Young Municipal Center was dedicated. The gesture was well deserved, said Mayor Daniel Paletko.
“He was just a fantastic person,” said Paletko, who also once served as a state representative and credits Young for fostering his own interest in politics.
“When I was in the Legislature, I can’t tell you how many doors just knowing (Young) opened for me, and anytime I had a question about something, Dick was the guy to go to.”
Born in Detroit, Young graduated from David Mackenzie High School in 1945. He graduated from the University of Detroit with a public administration degree in 1950 and in 1956 received his law degree from Wayne State University.
Before starting his career as a legislator, Young worked for the Internal Revenue Service. While in office, Young also worked part time as an attorney with Gluski, Young, and Randall and also as a professor teaching business law and accounting at the University of Detroit.
Surviving Young are his wife, Esther; a son, Michael; a daughter, Sarah (Griffin), and three grandchildren. Young was buried at St. Hedwig Cemetery in Dearborn Heights.