Richard (Dick) Coanda, (October 2, 1931 - January 6, 2014) an educator with a PhD in English, is best remembered as ASHO's Saint Hill Special Briefing Course supervisor and word clearer. He was a member of the Sea Org for twenty seven years and was on the RPF three times. Dick and Lori Coanda were married for over fifty-eight years, a novelty within the Church of Scientology.
Early Years[edit | edit source]
Richard Joseph Coanda was born October 2, 1931, to Joseph (1910-1970) and Victoria (1908-1979) Coanda.
While his hometown was Cudahy, Wisconsin, Dick graduated from South Milwaukee High School, class of 1949. When Dick was eighteen years old his mother ran way from home and met a handsome tattooed man who told her he had a job and a car and owned his own home, none of which was true, as she learned after marrying him. She moved in with his parents, who lived in a Rumanian neighborhood.
Dick attended Marquette University as an English Major. In 1955 Dick married Loraine, a marriage that would last fifty-eight years. He graduated with a PhD in Literature at the University of Wisconsin. During this time period Dick was active in the Cursillo Movement in the Catholic Church and served as editor of a small Cursillo newsletter called Ultreya. He was a copyreader for the Milwaukee Sentinel, junior editor of Renascence: A Critical Journal of Letters, editor of the Newman Review, author of more than a dozen articles and reviews for learned journals.
He moved his family to Los Angeles where he accepted a teaching position at the University of Southern California.
Scientology Years[edit | edit source]
Dick found out about Scientology in 1968 and started attending evening classes at the Church of Scientology of Los Angeles, 2005 West 9th Street. In 1969 Dick moved his family to San Diego where he went to work at the University of San Diego. He gave intro lectures at the Scientology College Avenue Org. On April 17, 1970, Dick, as an associate professor of English at the University of San Diego and a devout Roman Catholic, wrote a letter of support for Scientology (see copy of letter to the right). This letter was eventually reprinted in Scientology's 1974 publication of the book - "Scientology: A World Religion Emerges in the Space Age". The reprint of his letter can be found on page twenty-one of the appendices section of the book.
After 3 years Dick quit his job at the University and joined the Sea Org at AO. He was all ready to move back to LA with his wife and children when the position was cancelled. Dick had everything ready for the move including the cutting off of his phone. His phone was cancelled during his conversation about his move to LA. He took a job at the Church of Scientology of La Jolla (incorporated April 8, 1971) but was off loaded. He held various jobs, one as a manager of an “out of town” newspaper store and one as a short order cook at the cafeteria for mechanics at PSA Airlines. Dick was also the HQS Course supervisor at Carl Barney’s Scientology Coordinated Services mission on 10th Street. When the mission and the Church of Scientology of La Jolla merged, in February 1973, Dick moved his family to LA where he worked as a Sea Org member at ASHO as the Briefing Course supervisor. In a Scientology publication of 1973 Dick was featured as a supervisor of the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course at ASHO (see two pictures in the picture gallery).
Dick's first RPF[edit | edit source]
In early 1974 Dick was assigned to the Sea Org's RPF aboard the Excalibur. In August the RPF was pulled off of the ship to make the newly acquired Chateau Elysee ready for FOLO. For days they hauled a bunch of trash out of the basement, after which the RPF scraped and painted. Per FLWUS ED# 320, dated August 15, 1974, the following RPFer’s were commended for their work;
Nick Maminakis, Beth MacRae, Ron Stone, Pat Hunter, Doug Nopson, Steve Ambrose, David Holmes, Dick Coanda, Howard Dickman, Sara Reyes, Tom Cochran and Linda Hodge.
In the fall of 1974 Beth MacRae took a picture of the RPF, during breakfast, on the bow of the Excalibur. Dick is pictured with his back to the camera. In January 1975, Dick wrote a commendation (see below) to Howard Dickman, which was used in Howard's RPF graduation CSW. Dick graduated from the RPF and returned to ASHO.
On July 4, 2010, Dick was interviewed by David Thomas about his time on the Excalibur's RPF. At time stamp 6:19 to 6:30 Dick had this to say about his Excalibur RPF experience - "The first time I was gone for eleven months. I was aboard the Excalibur, that was a lot of fun actually. I lost thirty pounds. They didn't feed us well, didn't feed us well at all". His full interview can be viewed here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NjAyuVLdQ4
In January 2011, after the publication of Howard Dickman's story of the Excalibur's RPF, Dick wrote the following message -
Quote from Dick Coanda, January 31, 2011 at 5:41 pm;
- Hi Howard, Thanks for this positive report on the RPF you and I both served on. What you say is true, but the meals were skimpy — I lost 30 lbs. while there. Others suffered from malnutrition. There was no excuse for that. But we did have good times there. Best, Dick
Back to ASHO[edit | edit source]
At ASHO Dick held various posts; SHSBC Supervisor, SHSBC word clearer, D of T, Staff Section Officer, and folder administrator.
LRH Public Relations[edit | edit source]
Towards the end of his time with the Church Dick transferred over to LRH Public Relations as the chief LRH writer. He wrote for LRH internal and external PR and a weekly LRH briefing. During his time there he penned about 50 LRH press releases. Finally he was forced to leave SO Staff at LRH Public Relations. He had not been doing well, getting into long word chains. He caved in and was sent to his third RPF, which he was in for over a year. In 2000, after a twenty-seven year career with the Church, Dick was offloaded.
Life after the Church of Scientology[edit | edit source]
Dick lived in the apartments right across from Celebrity Centre International. He spent six years running a TV show that promoted Scientology. Dick was an officer of four different Scientology Gung-Ho Groups; a writers club, a poetry club. He was part of a Celebrity Centre poetry club and was invited to give a poetry seminar. Ten minutes before his scheduled time he was informed by the Church that he was not allowed to be on CC's premises. After twenty-seven years of service with the Sea Org he wasn't even allowed to get a cup of coffee at the Scientology Church right across the road from where he lived. When Dick found out that David and Aida Thomas were part of the Free Zone he came over but had never officially left the Church of Scientology. In 2010 when he was interviewed he was in the process of writing his eighth volume in a series of hilarious sci-fantasy novels, each about sixty thousand words long. He still strongly considered himself a Scientologist and was living according to the principals of his religion. His full interview can be viewed here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0BSQ1OvYvI
Richard Coanda passed away on Monday, January 6, 2014 around 10:00 am.
His obituary read;
Coanda, Richard died on Jan. 6, 2014, age 82. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Lori, 5 children, 11 grandchildren and 4 great- grandchildren. He attended Marquette University and earned his PhD in Literature at the University of Wisconsin. Former English professor (Ph.D.) and experienced writer and editor. and 50 press releases as personal public relations officer for L. Ron Hubbard, author or 300 poems and a 10-volume series of satirical science fantasy novels entitled "The Ladder of Love." He was a teacher, writer and poet. Richard's life will be celebrated at Our Mother of Good Counsel, at 2060 N. Vermont, Los Angeles, CA, at 4PM on Jan. 24.
Remembrances of Dick Coanda[edit | edit source]
News of Dick's passing spread quickly and many who knew him posted their remembrances of him. I have taken the liberty of reporting those comments here;
Quote from Aida De Thomas, January 7, 2014;
- I have just learned that our dear friend Richard Coanda passed away on Monday, January 6, 2014 around 10:00 am. He was a dedicated Sea Org member for many years at ASHO D and FDN he was a Word Clearer for the SHSBC. In the earlier years he was an LRH writer, he wrote articles for the LRH Unit. He was also a College Professor from San Diego University, where he taught English. He was the best word clearer Scientology has ever seen and he was very good at FDSing too. He helped my husband and me as well as many students to get through our training at ASHO. He was a good father to his children and loved his wife Lori very much. Just last week we got a letter from him; he wanted to participate in a literary group which I am part of, because he loved writing and reading books. He will certainly be missed.
Quotes from Dan Locke, January 9, 2014;
- Dick is a good representative of the parts of Scientology that we all love: the best stuff: the "Scientology Zero" stuff of openness, honesty, clarity, humor, ease, "postulates make things happen, not effort, right?", light-heartedness and ongoing commitment and sincerity. These lovely things I have seen over and over again in all who have ever been in that group. So, I am making some effort to send this tribute out to all I know who were and are a lot like Dick in their character. If you are reading this, either me or someone like me thinks that you are "a real Dick". (Pardon me for that one, but I think Dick might laugh at that. I'll take my chances!)
- What's made the news and sparked all the various controversies is a whole different story. Those stories were brought about by a different type of Scientologist than the sort that Dick exemplified. The newsmakers in Scientology who have brought about all the bad news have all been guys stressed out and nearly completely disconnected from the Truth of Who They Really Are. That's a whole different story than the story that Dick lived and the story that most Scientologists live. If Saint Hill were to take down that horrible androgynous gold Oscar wannabe statue from their grounds and ASHO were to take down that mangy lion from it's front steps, and both were to erect statues of Dick, peering over an e-meter in strong interest, with a smile, and stacks and stacks of dictionaries around him, I would probably walk into an org the next day and sign up all over again, because then I'd be aware that the Church of Scientology had fully gotten it together and become human again. I think that way, because Dick is so much more representative of who the "average" (read "amazing" and "wonderful") Scientologist is than are the Tom Cruises, Kirsti Alleys and David Miscaviges of the group. But I want to say that I see that sort of spirit still in the field. I am sure that it exists too, even in the Church, amongst much of the crews, who still cling to the dream; it's just there that sort of attitude is deemed "theetie wheetie" and pooped on. Outside of the Church, I think, a good natured attitude is encouraged. Thank God.
- He personally owned dozens of dictionaries. In the briefing course he had a book case of his personal dictionaries behind him. Often, just a few hours later, they'd be piled up on the table around him. He was very, very good with word clearing.
Quote from Mark Fisk, January 9, 2014;
- Richard, we were the best word clearers the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course ever had. I will always remember your wonderful sense of humor. My love to you and Lori. Save a nice loving and peaceful place for me. You will remain in my heart for ever.
Quote from Mark List, January 9, 2014;
- Dick was one of the best wordclearers I've known. Whenever I was in LA for training and he was available I got him to do my wordclearing. His TR's and patience always gave me the comfort of knowing I was with a wordclearer who found all my mu's. Didn't matter how long it took or if anyone else was waiting. He did the job exactly as it should be done, and he took pride in his work. He was an important part of my training. I will always love him for that.
Quotes from Chris Black, January 10 and 11, 2014;
- "I'd love to see people still "in" the Church and those who are not kind of come together to validate this guy. No one likes the schisms amongst Scientologists." Very true. There are no lines in the sand, no segregated bus seats, when it comes to acknowledging the common affinity for one's fellows, especially those who changed so many lives like Richard. Good work was done; just say so.
- There's a tape on the BC (and I can't say which one) where Ron says something like "Nothing can replace kindness, compassion and understanding." It's one quote that has always stuck with me. People like Dick exemplified it and are the "real" Scientology, IMO.
Quote from Dave Soroka, January 10, 2014;
- I never knew Dick Coanda well, but I knew him. He was at ASHO during my brief time there in the mid-'80s. Of course I liked him, and from what else I've heard he was an example to us all. And I think if a man's passing can be well used by his friends, this is a way to do it.
Quote from Robert Pike, January 11, 2014;
- I knew both Dick and Lori when I was in the Sea Org between 1972 and 1974. Our loss will be future gain. We will be together again and have many adventures in making this planet and eventually this universe a better place.
Quote from Ann Catherine Keirns, January 11, 2014;
- I still remember both Dick and his wife Lori after almost 20 years of being out of the Sea Org. Dick was quite guy! As my friends have said, we didn't get a big chance to get to know each other as human beings much but only as teammates and Dick was the kind of teammate you could count on. I feel for the family -- loss is never fun to go through! Bon Voyage, Dick!
Quote from Elizabeth Navi, January 15, 2014;
- I have a great many originals of his poems. Don't know if they were ever published? If I recall correctly, they were to be published under the title, The Duck Made Me Do It.
Quote from Michael Finely, January 16, 2014;
- It's guys like Dick who applied the Standard Tech of LRH the way that Ron wrote it because he knew in his heart that was what he was meant to do and he did to his last breath. He stuck it out with dedication that only a true Scientologist could.
Quote from Ian Waxler, June 28, 2014;
- Richard Coanda was like "part of the furniture at ASHO during the HIGHWATER mark of the SH Special Briefing Course.. circa 75-78.. etc. He helped to produce HUNDREDS of highly trained auditors & C/Ses & was far, far Overqualified for the post! It was apparent just speaking to him, that he was highly educated & highly intelligence, yet he carried himself with great humility, even as an equal to others who were barely more than high school grads! He was always upbeat in spite of the measly conditions provided in those days! He was part of a "pioneering tech movement" and will be missed by many of us he helped! RIP Richard & a speedy RETURN again! Much love, Ian Waxler
Picture Gallery[edit | edit source]
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June 25, 2014
Despite my relatively short time in Scientology, I had the honor of meeting some very wonderful people. I count Dick Coanda as one of those. He and I grew up in the same area of the Milwaukee suburbs, albeit twenty two years apart in age. Dick was the supervisor on my HQS course in San Diego in 1972. He and I were on the Excalibur's RPF together in 1974 and 1975. Dick had a PhD in Literature yet devoted his working life to Scientology and the Sea Org. I hold him in the highest esteem and I dedicate this biography in his memory.
If you have information about Dick I would be most appreciative if you would share it with me. My e-mail is BlkC5vette@aol.com.
Thanks so much;
Former Senior C/S of the Church of Scientology of San Diego
Owner of Chandler Tire Center in Chandler, Oklahoma