Richard B. “Dick” Persinger, 97, formerly of Salem, passed away on April 28 at his home in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Mildred Emory Persinger, also formerly of Salem.
Dick was a graduate of Salem High School, Roanoke College and the University of Virginia Law School. He and his partner founded the law firm of Jacobs and Persinger, later known as Jacobs, Persinger and Parker. It was rated by some at the time as the best small law firm in New York City.
In Salem, the family was active in local affairs, particularly in First Methodist Church where his father, William B. Persinger, was superintendent of the church school. After his retirement from Norfolk and Western railroad, William Persinger was a volunteer supervising the construction of the present church complex. His mother, Mary Whitesell Persinger, headed the women’s association for some years.
Frequent visits to their parents kept the Persingers and their children in touch with Salem. Louise, Richard and Philip could finally see the places they had heard so much about: Tank Hill where a huge bonfire celebrated the end of World War I; Lake Spring where the hotel burned during a New Year’s Eve party and men rushed out in tuxedos to dip water from the spring in a bucket brigade to try to douse the flames; Twelve O’Clock Knob that Dick climbed with his parents when he was 5 years old and, most exciting, driving on icy roads up and down Bent Mountain to teach a class of adults who wanted to improve their reading.
In 1966, the Salem Education Foundation and Alumni Association made Persinger a charter member of the Alumni Hall of Fame in recognition of his outstanding career achievements.
Growing up in Salem, Dick enjoyed the mountains and all the boyhood pleasures of the outdoors: hunting, trapping and competitive camping as an Eagle Scout.
In later life, he loved sailing his 20-foot sloop on the Tappan Zee, a wide stretch of the Hudson River. To celebrate his 50th birthday, he took up sport flying and over the next few years he and Mildred landed on runways throughout the United States, especially Block Island, where they frequently visited family friends.
He was so proud of the Christmas trees that he decorated every year in the bay windows of the house on Judson Avenue that he started placing placards next to each one. “This is the 103rd and 104th Christmas tree to be displayed in this house,” they announced on the placards this last holiday season.
The Rev. Joe Gilmore of South Presbyterian Church in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., blessed Richard’s transition in an intimate family gathering at the Edwards and Dowdle Funeral Home.
Richard is survived by his wife, Mildred, two sons Philip and Richard, four grandchildren and five great grandchildren.