Richard Marley Boccelli, aka Dick Richards of Bill Haley’s Comets, passed away on 7/12/2019 at the Shores at Wesley Manor in Ocean City, NJ. He celebrated his 95th birthday in February. Richard was born on 2/12/1924 in Delaware County, Pa. He attended Upper Darby High School (1949) went to college first at Fairleigh Dickinson College and then at West Chester State Teacher’s College where he majored in physical education and earned a teaching degree. In 1950 Dick married Elizabeth (Betty) Kurtz (1930-1986). They became the parents of three daughters: Beverly Walker (Steve), Denise Kubaska (Michael) and Betsy Young (deceased 2011). There are six grandchildren and one great-grandchild: Chris Kubaska, his wife Michelle Tacconelli and their daughter Pearl, Gordon Kubaska, Steve and Janvier Walker, and Becky and Rachael Young. After the death of his wife Betty in 1986, Dick was fortunate to again find love and companionship for the next 33 years with Shirley Kubaska. He leaves his extended family—nieces and nephews, cousins and many others who thought of him as a father figure.
Dick was a successful musician and actor for over 60 years. He was the original drummer with Bill Haley and the Comets, receiving a gold record for the 1954 recording of Shake Rattle and Roll and the band appeared in the movie ‘Blackboard Jungle’ In 1956. He taught physical science at Springfield High School in Delaware Co. and coached football from 1960-63. The family moved to Ocean City, NJ in 1963 where he acted in local theater. During the 1970s he pursued a full-time acting career in NYC performing on Broadway in ‘The Ritz’ (1975) and ‘Gemini’ (1977) and appearing in numerous films and TV shows. He reconnected with former band members reviving ‘The Original Bill Haley’s Comets’ in 1987 and played festivals in Europe. This band was featured for over 10 years in Branson, Mo. Dick retired from Branson in 2013 but continued to play through 2018 at special events with other original Comets. Dick performed locally with his Ocean City group ‘The Ready Rockers’ until he succumbed to illness in March of this year. He was an active member of S.A.G., Actors Equity and the Ocean City Exchange Club. He was a featured celebrity in some of Ocean City’s annual events. Dick received many honors including a Key to the City of Ocean City (2012), named on Upper Darby’s Alumni Wall of Fame (1999), Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame (2001) and in 2012 his induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The family wants to thank Wally Bucks and George Benner for their friendship and support over the past year and to thank the staff and volunteers at the Shores and Jouney’s Hospice for making Dick comfortable in his final days.
Throughout his life, Dick’s positive spirit, his boundless energy and his love of friends and family made him immensely successful. He has always been a bright light in the lives of those who knew and loved him. This light will continue to inspire and guide us for many years to come. We are sure he is “Rocking” it among the stars!!
A Celebration-of-Life will be held on Wednesday, August 7, from 3:30-7:30pm, at Greate Bay Country Club in Somers Point, NJ.
In lieu of flowers donations to honor his memory may be made to any of the following organizations: American Heart Association, United Methodist Communities Foundation, Hedgerow Theater in Rose Valley, PA
For condolences to the family, visit www.godfreyfuneralhome.com.