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Jan. 24, 1945 – Jan. 18, 2014

Richard A. “Rico” Schwede, of Holland, a retired Buffalo News district manager and high school football official, died Jan. 18 in Fiddler’s Green Manor, Springville, after a lengthy illness. He was 68.

Born in Cleveland, he was adopted and grew up in the Buffalo area. He escaped safely from the tragic Cleveland Hill Elementary School fire in 1954 and was a 1962 graduate of Cleveland Hill High School. He served in the Marine Corps in Europe during the Vietnam War.

Mr. Schwede worked in the circulation department at The News for more than 30 years, retiring as a district manager about 10 years ago.

Widely respected as a football, baseball and softball official, he was a member of the Western New York Umpires Association for more than 40 years and served on its board of directors.

A member of the Western New York Chapter of Certified Football Officials for 41 years, he served for 28 years on its board of directors and 17 years as president. He oversaw the assigning of Little League football officials for 25 years.

He received the Richard E. Leous Award from the New York State Association of Certified Football Officials, as well as its Merit Award for longtime service to the game.

He was the last surviving member of the football officials’ original contract negotiation committee for Section VI and the lead negotiator on the last four contracts with the scholastic sports organization.

He also served for more than 20 years on the committee that awards the Conley Cup to the outstanding prep school football player in Western New York.

In 1985, he founded his own business, Rico’s Trophies, supplying plaques and awards to local schools and organizations.

He also enjoyed golfing and was a member of Holland Hills Country Club.

Survivors include his wife, Jinhua;and a stepson, Johnson.

There will be no services. Mr. Schwede donated his body to the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.