By Alexander Dacy
For The Diamondback
For more than 60 years, Richard Mensi greeted every person who passed through the gates of a Maryland athletic event he worked with a warm, grandfatherly smile.
When students forgot their IDs to get into games, Mensi — always clad in a white shirt, a tie and a pair of polished leather shoes — often let them through with a wink and a nod and a gentle reminder to bring it next time, people who knew him well said.
Mensi, nicknamed Dick by some family and friends, worked as a member of the Terp Host staff — responsible for guest relations — for Terrapin football, basketball and lacrosse from 1953 until the fall of 2016. He died on Aug. 5 in College Park at the age of 90. As a Terp Host, Mensi primarily served as an usher and a ticket taker.
Mensi’s colleague and longtime friend, Patricia Hughes, remembered him as an honest, polite and positive man who always had a smile on his face and enjoyed his job.
“Dick epitomized a gentleman at all times,” she said. “Whether it was opening the door for you if you were going out together or his reaction to situations … he always had a smile, and he was a genuinely good man.”
In a statement, Maryland athletics spokesperson Zack Bolno recalled Mensi’s positive spirit and commitment to the university.
“We could always count on Richard greeting us with a smile and providing support wherever needed,” Bolno wrote. “Richard was a man of high character and a consummate professional, and he will be greatly missed at the University of Maryland.”
Born in 1928 in southwestern Pennsylvania, Mensi was the youngest of four children. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps, serving in Tokyo during the Allied occupation. Mensi returned to Pennsylvania in 1949 and enrolled in college at Waynesburg State College, where he earned a degree in accounting.
He then moved to the Washington, D.C. area and, after a brief stint with the federal government, settled in as head of payroll at Catholic University. He worked there for 40 years, and in his free time he also worked as an usher and ticket taker for Maryland athletics.
In addition to his time at Maryland, Mensi briefly worked in a similar capacity at Washington Senators baseball games and Washington Redskins football games.
Paul Yarrish, a close friend of Mensi, said his family remembered him during the service as “one of the university’s most loyal supporters.” Hughes noted that Mensi was widely revered in the Terrapin athletic community simply because he was respectful to all and gave so much time to Maryland.
“Dick could do anything when it came to [helping with] athletics … [and there] was a deep and abiding respect people had for him, and that’s because of the type of person he was, because he respected others,” she said.
This respect extended to some of the university’s coaches. Hughes described how men’s basketball coach Mark Turgeon called Mensi’s family and was “so disappointed” he couldn’t attend the service because the basketball team was traveling, he said.
In the years after his retirement from Catholic University in 1993, Mensi remained active in his community. Aside from his time at Maryland, he often spent time with senior groups and at the local American Legion post, playing poker, taking day trips and dining with friends and family.
He is survived by his three daughters, Carolyn, Patricia and Lisa, as well as six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Two of his grandchildren as well as his son-in-law currently serve as Terp Hosts, continuing his legacy.