President Elaine Dreidame, and the board of the Property Owners Association (POA), dedicated their December meeting, Tuesday night at Laurel Manor Regional Recreation Center, to Rich Lambrecht, who passed away recently, just shy of his 71st birthday, after suffering a massive stroke — allowing Villages neighbors and friends to voice their final farewell to the much loved and admired Villager. Rich’s wife, Anne, and Anne’s parents, Barbara and Manny Montero, were present at the well attended meeting to hear the many tributes.
“Rich Lambrecht is up there looking down at this meeting,” Elaine Dreidame began. “He was one of a kind — dedicated to using his positions on the [Community Development District] CDD 4 board and the Amenity Authority Committee to make the voices of the residents heard in a forum where actions could be taken on their behalf. The Villages residents have lost a great ambassador.”
Don Deakin, whom Rich Lambrecht recommended to replace him on the AAC when he realized he would not be able to return to that seat, thanked the large group of POA members for coming out to honor Lambrecht, “We are here to thank you, Rich, for your service and friendship over the years,” Deakin, who knew Rich for about ten years, said.”Rich was a friend to everyone he met. He never met a stranger. It will be extremely difficult, but I will do my best to fill Rich’s shoes.”
Deakin, who is serving his third term on CDD 4, gave a brief history of how the Amenity Authority Committee evolved from its predecessor, the Resident Advocacy Committee, and how Lambrecht, as part of a POA task force, which included Dreidame, Joe Gorman and Bill Garner, fought for and won resident governance in The Villages. He read letters from residents and former residents paying tribute, including one from Rose and Charlie Harvey, who recently moved from the historic side of The Villages to be closer to family. It said in part: “Rich was a wonderful, humble person who would go out of his way to help everyone, and people in The Villages will miss him.” Charlie Harvey has since passed away, but Rose continues to following The Villages via the online villages-news.com.
Ron Hastead, who worked with Rich at IBM in New York State, mentioned Lambrecht’s excellent reputation, and how he was highly respected at that company for the work he did and how he helped people. “He will be missed at IBM and also in The Villages,” he said. Betty Cunningham, SHINE volunteer leader, also remembered Rich’s assistance fondly, and how he never backed down when there was an issue of justice..
POA board members and CDD supervisors Jerry Ferlisi, Sal Torname and Jerry Vicenti, among others, spoke, sometimes tearfully, of Lambrecht’s beneficial advice and mentorship. “There’s always one person in a group that is special, and Rich was that person,” Vicenti said.
Several neighbors talked of having fun with Rich playing pickleball and golf, and how Rich advocated when there were problems with ponds or sinkholes. “Rich was very active in our little corner of The Villages,” neighbor and friend, Karl von Brook, said.”You always felt comfortable being his partner — and he always knew the score. It seemed he had a built-in calculator — and the score was always right. He was an honest politician, which is a breath of fresh air.”
Lambrecht’s in-laws spoke lovingly of their daughter, Anne’s husband, and how he fit so neatly into their big family. In fact, Rich and Anne Lambrecht cruised on their honeymoon in 1999 along with her parents, who were celebrating their 50th anniversary.
Rich’s widow, Anne, said: “He made me laugh every single day. I will always miss him. He truly loved me, I know.” But she also told about, Rich, whom she always referred to in her columns as ‘The Husband,” teasing her about her gardening passion. When Anne invited passersby to see her back yard garden. Rich told her there were drag marks from their feet from being forced to walk back there. “How could they say ‘no?,'” he used to say. “Not everybody loves gardens the way you do!”