|Richard R. "Dick" Fletcher|
September 18, 1942|
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
|Died||February 26, 2008
St. Petersburg, Florida, U.S.
|Cause of death||stroke|
|Known for||Television meteorologist|
|Children||Sean, Stephanie, Christine|
|Parent(s)||Ralph and Alice Fletcher|
|Relatives||Ray, Larry, Terry (brothers); Rita and Sandy (sisters); Hailey, Mallory, Ella, KC, Tatianna and Kayden (grand-children)|
Richard R. "Dick" Fletcher (September 18, 1942 – February 26, 2008) was a broadcast meteorologist. He was Chief Meteorologist for WTSP channel 10 in St. Petersburg, Florida, for 28 years (1980–2008) at the time of his death on February 26, 2008. He held the American Meteorological Society Seal of Approval.
During his lengthy broadcasting career, Fletcher flew aboard reconnaissance aircraft missions into three hurricanes and made 15 different penetrations into the eye of those storms. In 1987, he was honored by the American Meteorological Society with an award for Outstanding Service by a Broadcast Meteorologist. He was presented the distinguished service award by the National Hurricane Conference in 2003 for his leadership efforts in hurricane preparedness. He also received the Media award from the Florida Governor's Hurricane Conference in 1993.
Fletcher, a native of Omaha, Nebraska, graduated from the University of Omaha in 1964. He had an early ambition to be a television news broadcaster and started his career in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at KCRG, working as a news anchor and occasionally doing the weather. In the early 1970s, he began working as a full-time meteorologist at KOA-TV in Denver, Colorado, and would spend several years in the city. He earned the AMS seal of approval in 1978. In 1976, Fletcher would go on to work in Corpus Christi and then back at KMTV in Omaha. In 1980, he left Omaha to begin his tenure at then-ABC affiliate (now CBS affiliate) WTSP-TV as chief meteorologist on March 17, 1980, replacing WTSP's chief meteorologist at the time, Wally Kinnan. He was widely praised for his leadership during Hurricane Elena in September 1985 and for popular segments in which he would answer weather questions from viewers, called "Weather Whys". Fletcher also participated in many community events and was a noted public speaker. He also was a former member (1987–1993) of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. His no-nonsense, straightforward approach to forecasting was his trademark. After his death, WTSP meteorologist Tammie Souza took over the Chief Meteorologist name.
During the 2004 hurricane season, Hurricane Charley appeared to be on its way to Tampa Bay. WTSP's studios on Gandy Boulevard, merely two miles west of the Gandy Bridge, were part of the evacuation zone, and the entire staff was forced to leave. The station evacuated to the Clearwater studios of Pinellas 18 (now PCC-TV), a government access (GATV) cable TV channel owned by Pinellas County. This left Fletcher without his weather equipment, and he was the last to know about the sudden eastward shift of the storm as a result. He was forced to broadcast out of Pinellas 18's ill-equipped studios using a Windows PC with a basic radar image as his makeshift weather station. He was visibly upset on the air as the Windows screensaver repeatedly activated.
He lived in St. Petersburg with his wife, Cindy, and had three adult children. Fletcher was an avid tennis player, often playing in the morning at the St. Petersburg Tennis Center. He was also an avid baseball fan.
Fletcher was famous for his work ethic and dedication to viewers, often coming into work hours early and refusing to take a vacation.
Illnesses and death
On November 24, 2003, Fletcher suffered a stroke at the TV station just before a 4 p.m. news broadcast. Subsequent to his first stroke, he made frequent public appearances for the cause of stroke survival and prevention.
On the afternoon of February 18, 2008, Fletcher suffered a second, massive stroke while at home. He subsequently died at St. Anthony's Hospital in St. Petersburg early on the morning of February 26, 2008.
- "AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologists". American Meteorological Society. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
- Walt Belcher (2008-02-20). "Forecaster to stay at hospital a few days". The Tampa Tribune. p. 2.
- "Update on Chief Meteorologist Dick Fletcher". WTSP-TV. 2008-02-20. Archived from the original on March 15, 2008. Retrieved 2014-09-03. Via the Wayback Machine.