Reece Fowler “Rick” Wollard, corporate pilot, talented musician, world-traveler and entrepreneur, devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, died in his sleep Thursday, Feb. 25, after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease.
In his 71 years, he lived every adventure he imagined, laughing and joking along the way. Wollard was born just after midnight on June 3, 1949, in an upstairs doctor’s office in Polo, Missouri, the first of three children of Garland S. and Mary Reece Wollard. The family moved often, living in Ohio; Omaha, Nebraska; South Dakota; Southern California; Honolulu; and Madrid, Spain, before settling in Northern Virginia.
In Spain, Wollard studied classical piano. In Omaha and Virginia, he played trumpet in his high school bands. In Virginia, he taught himself guitar and played with folk groups in and around the D.C. area, including at the celebrated Mr. Henry’s and the Cellar Door. As a retiree, he took up the banjo.
He graduated from Yorktown High School in Arlington, Virginia, in 1967, and attended the University of South Carolina before graduating with a B.A. in English literature from George Mason University, then part of the University of Virginia, in 1973.
In 1971, he married Cher Naccash. The first of their three daughters, Lysa, was born one year later, and Jessica was born the year after that. In 1974, the young family moved to Pleasanton, where he worked at the then-new Federal Correctional Institute. The job did not suit him, but the Bay Area did.
Wollard returned to his first love, music, and the family set down roots, moving to Livermore in 1976. Their third daughter, Sara, was born in 1977. Wollard played in restaurants and clubs, at weddings, bar mitzvahs, and class reunions, as a solo artist and in various bands, notably Livewire. In 1978, his “Prison Song” won an honorable mention in the prestigious National American Songwriters’ Contest. He also taught guitar to hundreds of young students.
In 1984, the Wollards purchased Valley Music House on First Street (now Mozart, Einstein and Me), which they ran until 1989. Meanwhile, he had learned to fly, achieving his commercial, instructor, and airline transport pilot’s licenses. He used the proceeds from the sale of the music store to start a small air-charter operation, which took him on many adventures in its five years of operation.
Wollard joined the flight department for Hewlett-Packard, from 1994 to 1999; and Tag Aviation, from 1999 to 2007. He worked as a contract pilot from 2007 to 2010, flying for Safeway, Disney, and other companies before retiring. Even in retirement, he remained active, teaching both guitar and aviation ground school and taking classes in photography and viticulture at Las Positas College. He also loved to read, especially classic books and science fiction; ride bicycles and motorcycles; and collect coins, pocket knives and baseball hats. He served on the City of Livermore’s Airport Planning Commission from 2014-2018.
In 2019, he had the joy of meeting his son, Jeffrey Prescott, who had been adopted as an infant, and Prescott’s daughter, Riley. Wollard is survived by his wife, Cher; daughters, Lysa Wollard and her husband, John Daley, of Livermore; Jessica Wollard and her husband, Eric Meyer, of Livermore; and Sara Wollard and her partner, Paul Brannan, of Sarasota, Florida. He also leaves grandchildren, Taylor Meyer Wilson and her husband, Matthew of Warrenton, Virgina, Justin Meyer of Tracy, Samantha Marx-Wollard of Livermore, and Ashley Reynolds and Emma Reynolds of Sarasota, Florida; as well as two great-grandsons, Jackson and Zachary Wilson of Warrenton, Virginia. He is also survived by Jeffrey Prescott and Riley Prescott of Milford, Connecticut. Wollard also leaves his brother, Brian Wollard and his wife Karen of Hollywood, Florida; his sister, Jennifer Willis and her husband, James, of Berryville, Virginia; nephew, James Willis and his son, also James Willis, of Berryville, Virginia; and nieces, Juli Willis of Norfolk, Virginia, Mary Willis of Herndon, Virginia, and Emma Wollard of Hollywood, Florida.
The family is grateful to our many friends and to his caretaker, Michael Saliba, for their love and support. There will be no services, per his wishes. Those wishing to celebrate Reece Wollard’s life are encouraged to make donations to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital or the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.