Retired Air Force Col. Richard J. “Dick” Wieland was 74 years old when he won his seat on the Lockhart City Council.
It was the last stop in a long and varied career for a man who served in the Air Force during the Korean War, was one of the first staff attorneys at the National Aeronautic and Space Administration, and did not retire until he reluctantly stepped down from his City Council seat at the age of 82.
“He was always very busy,” said Sally Wieland, his wife of 48 years. “He couldn’t handle not having something to do.”
Wieland died at his home in Lockhart on Sunday at the age of 83.
Born in Philadephia on Oct. 10, 1929, Wieland grew up in Maryland and joined the Air Force after graduating from the University of Maryland.
After seven years of service in the Air Force, Wieland attended Georgetown University Law School. He moved to Houston after obtaining his law degree to serve as a law clerk for a federal judge. He went on to become one of the first attorneys at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and worked there during the historic Gemini and Apollo missions, while also serving in the Air Force Reserves.
“He was a serious minded person and enjoyed his work at NASA very much,” Sally Wieland said. “It was an exciting time for us.”
The Wielands had met over a game of bridge, set up by mutual friends in Houston.
“That was the first and only time we played bridge together,” Sally Wieland said.
Their daughter Cari was born one month before the moon landing and he watched the landing on television while walking a colicky baby up and down the stairs, she said.
The family eventually moved to Washington D.C., where Wieland continued his work with NASA. He also began to work with the Federal Bar Association, a group that he eventually served as president.
Wieland was devoted to his family. After losing his own parents, he took early retirement from NASA in order to move closer to his wife’s family in Central Texas, so that she could be with her parents in the later years of their lives, Sally Wieland said.
Unable to sit still during retirement, Wieland went into private law practice, taught business law and ethics in the St. Edward’s MBA program and eventually decided to run for City Council in Lockhart in 2004.
“He wanted to do something for the city,” Sally Wieland said.
During his six years in office, he worked to bring more economic opportunities to Lockhart and tried to bring the white and Hispanic communities closer together, she said. City staff said that he supported broadband technology, local libraries and broadcasts of public meetings.
Mayor Lew White said that Councilman Wieland “was a gentle man with a clear focus and vision for the growth of Lockhart powered by a strong drive to accomplish that vision.”
U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett called Wieland “a man of integrity who served our country and Lockhart with great honor.
“For many years, I valued his friendship and advice while admiring his service,” Doggett said.
Wieland resigned from the council in 2012 when his health began to fail.
“That was one of the hardest things he ever did,” Sally Wieland said. “He loved the service and being able to help solve problems.”
The family will receive visitors from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday at McCurdy Funeral Home, which is handling the arrangements. Funeral service is 11 a.m. on Thursday at First United Methodist Church of Lockhart. Interment with full military honors will follow at the Lockhart City Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to Hospice Austin or Camp For All in Burton, TX.