The Travel Guy
You could say that Dick Dunham has been a world traveler since the day he was born. His dad, Lt. Colonel Richard Weston Dunham Sr., was a 29-year career officer in the U.S. Air Force, and he moved around a lot, toting his family with him. “I think we moved on average about once every 2.3 years,” Dick says. “We went from Keene, New Hampshire to Georgia to Newfoundland, then back to New England, on to Tripoli and Libya for two years, then to Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, back to Ohio and finally to Georgia. I’m not sure what place I’d call home. Maybe right here. My wife Barbara and I moved to the Englewood area in 1986, and I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else.”
Young Dick was inspired by what his dad did, and he had a yen to be a pilot or an aeronautical engineer, although he ultimately did neither. In 1963, when he was 18, Dick entered Georgia Tech University, where he planned to major in aeronautical engineering. “I did okay during my freshman year,” he says, “but by my second year I realized that the math and physics involved weren’t my thing.”
But he still had an interest in air travel. During his second year at Tech he got a part-time job with Eastern Airlines as a gate agent. His shift: 12:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. “It gave me an opportunity to do some work but still go to school,” he avers. That job started a relationship with EAL that lasted for 23 years. “A year or so later I dropped out of school and took a full-time position as a gate agent. I got drafted in 1967, but in those days Eastern had a policy that they’d hire you back when you got out of the service.”
And that’s what happened… but not before Dick got in some more traveling. After basic training at Ft. Benning, Ga. he went to Ft. Knox, Ky. for training as an armored vehicle crewman, and from there he went not to Vietnam, where a hot war was in progress, but to Korea. It was not exactly a great posting. “I was at Camp Beard, about 3 kilometers from the DMZ,” he remembers. “Our camp was in the mountains, reachable by dirt roads. During the summer the temperature was about 120 degrees, and during the winter it was 40 below. I spent two Thanksgivings and two Christmases there, and I did get to Seoul once, but that’s about all. Korea back then wasn’t like it is now. I’d love to go back and see it again.”
Dick was honorably discharged in January 1969, and in March of that year he went back to work for Eastern at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport. “I started out as a gate agent again,” he recalls, “but in 1970 I went into sales,” specializing in convention travel. Those who know Dick would say sales was the right field for him. He’s an outgoing, friendly guy who almost always has a smile on his face, meets people easily and makes a point of getting along with others. “I’ve never met a person I didn’t like,” he claims, though perhaps that’s the product of a forgiving memory.
Dick prospered in the sales career...and traveled a lot. His first two years he worked in close association with the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, encouraging prospective convention attendees to fly EAL into Atlanta. In 1978 he moved to Cincinnati as manager of passenger and cargo sales and then to Sarasota/Bradenton in a similar capacity. In 1983 he moved to EAL’s Cleveland office, but as the company encountered financial difficulties and went into merger talks in 1987, he decided it was time to leave. He remembers the date precisely. “It was Friday the 13th of February, 1987,” and it was a good date, not a bad one, for him. “It gave me peace of mind,” he says with a smile. He came down to Palm Island Resort as director of sales & marketing, a job he was to hold for 17 years, in three of which he also served as general manager.
“I had nothing to do with the real estate sales there. I was selling the services of the hotel and the resort,” he says. “I loved going on the road, talking about the resort with travel agents, going to trade shows, selling them Palm Island as a vacation destination. It was different from the other resorts, unique really.” That task sent him not only around the Midwest and Northeastern states of the U.S. but also to Canada and Great Britain on occasion.
In 2004 Dick left Palm Island Resort and “semi-retired.” He signed on as director of sales and marketing for Travel Girl magazine and “dabbled,” as he puts it, in a few other projects until his full retirement in 2010.
Now he plays golf three or four times a week at his home club, Boca Royale, and other venues around the state. He learned to play golf as a youth in Tripoli and played a lot of tournament golf over the years as a single-digit handicapper. At age 74, as a former club champion at Boca Royale with nine holes-in-one under his belt, he’s a sought-after golf partner at his current handicap of 18. He also enjoys a good game of poker at the Club with the guys on Thursday nights.
Dick and Barb, his wife of 31 years, like the low-key, laid-back lifestyle of Englewood. They like the fact that their two sons, Christopher and Richard, live nearby. “We love the beaches, the restaurants and the people,” Dick says. But they also enjoy traveling, whether it’s a golf vacation, a cruise or a group trip they’ve arranged and led for family, friends and neighbors. “I think we should enjoy each day and live life to the fullest,” says the Travel Guy. It’s travel that he loves, not travail.
Dean Laux is exploring interesting folks living in our community. If you know of anyone with an interesting background please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the person’s name, contact info and give a brief description of the person's background.