‘Loved by so many:’ Dick Dowin remembered for dedication to Milford

Richard Dowin of Milford leads the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the Republican State Convention Saturday, May 22, 2010 at the Hartford Convention Center.

Richard Dowin of Milford leads the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the Republican State Convention Saturday, May 22, 2010 at the Hartford Convention Center.

Carol Kaliff / Carol Kaliff

MILFORD — Richard “Dick” Dowin dedicated his life to aiding local organizations — just ask his son, Thomas.

“My dad was quite the staple here for Milford,” Thomas said about his father. “I’m already getting bombarded with phone calls and text messages. He was loved by so many.”

Richard Dowin died on Dec. 24, at the age of 92, but left a long legacy in Milford.

“He was very political and very charitable,” Thomas said. “From volunteering at the boys, he did things for Toys for Tots, and he did a lot of charity through the Devon Lions Program, and he was so involved.”

Richard was the chairman of the Devon Lions Program for years. Dowin said his dad took it over about 1962.

“When he took the club over, it was a 20-year-old club. Now the club is going to turn 80, and he ran it almost 60 years,” said Dowin. “He’s got all these big awards for that which don’t come easy like the Melvin Jones Award for the Blind.”

“He was dedicated to family and charity,” he added. “He ran under two Milford Mayor’s Henry Povinelli and Federick Lisman, and then after that, he went and spent four years in East Haven under Mayor Bob Norman.”

Dowin said while his father was working with Norman, he was pushing for recycling bins around 1988 because they didn’t come out until 1991.

“He was pushing and implementing recycling bins to separate your trash and recycle,” he said. “When cellphones were a new thing, he was also involved in getting cellphones for the elderly, The SAFE Seniors Program, without cost for 911 and emergencies.”

Dowin said throughout all his life, his father was always volunteering, and before he died, he was still the treasurer for the Devon Lions Club.

“I took it over because he wasn’t doing many activities anymore, so I figured that I would keep the ball rolling,” he said. “For the senior housing, he was a member of the Milford Senior Center Board of Directors, and about two months ago, we Skyped them, and they wanted me to hand him an award for 20 years, but it was actually in reality for 40 years. But this group of people was with him for the last 20 years, so they gave him the 20-year plaque, but in reality, he did it 20 years before that. So that’s what’s crazy. His whole life, he was on different boards and always volunteering.”

Dowin was also active in local Republican politics, serving as a longtime member and at times chair of the Milford Republican Town Committee.

RTC Chair John Drapp called Dowin an icon in Milford and Connecticut.

“He was involved with numerous civic organizations dedicated to helping the people of Milford and tirelessly advocated for the rights of the disabled,” Drapp said. “Dick was involved in Milford politics for decades and served in the administrations of Mayor Henry Povinelli and Mayor Frederick Lisman.”

Drapp said Dowin was Milford’s representative on the Republican State Central Committee until stepping down in 2019.

“He not only had an incredible historical perspective on politics, but he was also a fierce advocate for the need to adapt to changing times,” Drapp said.

“On a personal level, when I became vice-chair and then chair of the town committee, Dick would often send me notes that demonstrated his warmth and wisdom as he offered me advice on navigating those roles,” he added. “I will always treasure my friendship with Dick, as will anyone that knew him. He was a true gentleman and will be sorely missed.”

Dowin also earned numerous awards for his service.

In 1980, he received the Gold Award for his service as the Government Division Chairman for the United Way of Milford; Community Advocate Award and the Outstanding to Seniors Award; Melvin Jones Award Fellow Award by the Lions.

He was named to the Milford Republican Town Committee 2009 Hall of Fame, received the Knight of the Blind award, and, in 2012, he earned the Living Treasure Award for his lifelong service to the Milford community.

“Mr. Dowin was a Milford man through and through. Whether he was serving his country in the Navy, volunteering with the Devon Lions, or advocating for area seniors,” said Milford Mayor Ben Blake. “Mr. Dowin’s commitment to our City is a large part of what makes Milford the Small City with a Big Heart. The impacts of his kindness, passion, and advocacy will be felt for generations to come.”

Richard Dowin was not only focused on the elderly but also volunteered with the Milford Little League for more than 14 years.

Dowin volunteered with the Milford United Way from 1978-82 and was appointed by then Milford Mayor Henry Povinelli to chair the Government Division for the annual campaign, according to Gary Johnson, Milford United Way president.

“Dick was in charge of forming a team that would ask municipal employees to contribute to the United Way of Milford,” Johnson said. “Some of the largest totals for our campaign occurred during Dick’s tenure as Chair of the Government Division. I also served briefly with Dick more recently on the Milford Wall of Fame Committee until COVID forced us to stop meeting.”