Richard Alpert

Date of Birth

July 5, 1925

Date of Death

May 12, 2020

City of Death

Santa Barbara, CA

Richard Alpert, 94, died May 12, 2020. Married for almost 69 years to his adored wife Phyllis, he was the father of four children (Barbara, Larry, Peter [Cali], and David [Patricia], grandfather to six (Lauren, Stephanie [Brian], Charlie [Brittany], Joshua, Jackson [Daija], and Casey), and great-grandfather to three (Kamya, Mazie Lee, and Ember).

Born in the Bronx, NY, son of Martin and Bess Alpert, Richard attended Townsend Harris High School, a prep school for “bright boys” at City College of New York. His college education was interrupted by World War II. He served in the Army, mostly in Italy, and wrote a book about his wartime experiences, How I Lost My Harvard Accent. Based on his letters home, the book shared lively stories he could tell his mother without alarming her. He also wrote about his unforgettable war nurse, Syvetta Vezmar. During Richard’s recuperation from hepatitis, she took him to the opera house in Florence to hear “Rhapsody in Blue,” and she encouraged his dreams of becoming a writer.

When the war ended, Richard finished his business degree and began a long career in the men’s wear business as a buyer, store manager, and sales rep. He enjoyed his work, but his best times were traveling the world with Phyllis and attending theater and opera performances. They cruised everywhere, and they saw just about every show worth seeing. Richard was also a great lover of books and literary magazines. He had tall bookcases lining the walls of every room—and he saved more than 40 years of The New Yorker!

In the mid-1980s, after their sons settled out West (Larry in Colorado and Peter and David in California), Richard and Phyllis moved to California to be near them and their families. Living in Santa Barbara since 1985, they were actively involved as reviewers for the Santa Barbara Film Festival. They also loved the Music Academy of the West, attending piano and voice master classes and acting as volunteer ushers. But Richard’s true love, after his wife and family, was the movies! He found great happiness as a teacher of film courses for the adult school at Santa Barbara City College’s Schott Center. He taught The Wonderful World of Movies for many years, and his knowledge of cinema was prodigious. Richard’s film writing was published in The New York Times and his short essays in the Montecito Journal.

Richard is survived by his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren mentioned above. He also loved his nieces and nephews: Jimmy [Marjorie] and Bobby Kuhn, Michael Brode and Diana Brode Artosky [Bill], and Beth Guttman Dunn [Gary], Alan Guttman [Cher],and Howard Guttman [Grace]. His beloved wife Phyllis, son Larry, and sister Joan predeceased him. He will be remembered as a man who loved his family, watching movies, and collecting books, and he truly believed that living well is the best revenge.


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