This obituary originally appeared on Memorial Funeral Home.

Eugene Alexander Brickach, age 84, of Middletown, RI, passed away on Thursday, December 31, at Westerly Hospital. He was the devoted husband of Mary Jane (Lepley) Brickach for 56 years.

Eugene (Gene) was born in Pawtucket, RI to Alexander Brickach and Dominika (Wasilewicz) Brickach on October 1, 1936.

He graduated as a top honors student from Pawtucket West High School in 1954 and attended Brown University on scholarship to study Engineering. After freshman year he decided that field was not for him and left to join the U.S. Navy. After Basic Training and Communications School, he was assigned as a radioman to the captain’s crew of Naval Patrol Squadron 24 in P2V Neptune aircraft, tracking Russian submarines in the North Atlantic, the North Sea and over the North Pole. He finished his naval career in four years rising to Aviation Electronics Technician 3rd Class while attached to an air base in Malta. Gene’s Navy experiences led to a lifelong love of travel in the British Isles, Ireland, and throughout Europe.

Gene enrolled at Rhode Island College in 1959, where he majored in English Education and met his future wife, Mary Jane Lepley. They were married on August 8, 1964, at St. Lucy’s Church in Middletown, RI. After Gene received his master’s degree in 1965 from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, he and Mary Jane returned to their beloved Rhode Island and Gene began teaching at Roger Williams Junior College. He became a tenured faculty member and taught for 34 years, retiring from Roger Williams University in 1999. Although Gene loved teaching his college-age students during the day, he also enjoyed teaching hundreds of adults in summer school and evening classes over the years, many of whom were police officers studying for their bachelor’s degrees.

Gene was an avid Red Sox fan and longtime collector of antique toy cars, specializing in land speed record cars as a member of England’s Speed Record Club. Throughout the years he was a subscriber to Trinity Square Repertory Company and the Rhode Island Philharmonic, as well as a member of the Rhode Island College Alumni Association, National Education Association, and Edgewood Waterfront Preservation Association.

In retirement, the Brickachs moved to Virginia to be closer to their grandchildren. Since Gene loved Block Island and had been vacationing there with family since 1969, he made sure to continue that tradition with his grandchildren. They loved it as well.

Eugene is survived by his loving wife Mary Jane Brickach of Middletown, his son William A. Brickach (Cheryl) of Bristol, his daughter Larissa C. Brickach of West Warwick, and granddaughters Caroline and Olivia. He also leaves sisters-in-law Barbara Lepley Roy (Vance) of Newport and Sachseln, Switzerland, Carol Jordan Lepley of Middletown, and 15 nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his siblings William A. Brickach of North Kingstown, Alice Brickach and Helen Brickach Cobb of Pawtucket, as well as brothers-in-law Stephen Lepley, George Hamacher, and Dr. Robert Crowell, and sister-in-law Anna Mae (Nan) Hamacher.

Funeral services will be private. Burial with military honors will be at St. Columba Catholic Cemetery in Middletown.

The family extends their gratitude to the compassionate staffs of Blenheim Harbor Care, Westerly Hospital, and Hope Health Hospice and Palliative Care.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Rhode Island College Foundation, 600 Mount Pleasant Ave, Providence, RI 02908.