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Richard C. Caesar

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Richard Cornelius Caesar (April 12, 1918 - December 20, 2011) was a prominent San Francisco, California dentist, philanthropist/civic leader, U.S. Army Air Corps/U.S. Air Force officer, combat fighter pilot, and engineering officer with the 332nd Fighter Group's 100th Fighter Squadron, best known as the famed Tuskegee Airmen, "Red Tails," or “Schwartze Vogelmenschen” ("Black Birdmen") among enemy German pilots.[1][2]

One of 1,007 documented Tuskegee Airmen Pilots, Caesar was one of the first-ever African-Americans to fly a combat aircraft.[3] He was a member of Tuskegee's sixth cadet graduating class and one of the first 50 African American combat fighter pilots in history.[4] He was notable for being the Arkansas's second-ever African American combat fighter pilot.[5][6] Fellow pilot Herbert V. Clark was the first of the Tuskegee Airmen from Arkansas.[7] He is also notable for saving decorated Tuskegee Airman Roscoe Brown from a potentially fatal aircraft crash.[8]

Caesar — along with every member of the Tuskegee Airmen — received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007.[9] In 2019, Stewart co-wrote “Soaring to Glory: A Tuskegee Airman's Firsthand Account of World War II,” co-written by Philip Handleman.[10]

In 1984, Caesar was the Young Men’s Christian Association-San Francisco's Humanitarian of Year award.[11]

Early Life, Family, Education[edit]

Caesar was born on April 12, 1918 in Lake Village, Arkansas, Chicot County.[12] He was the son of Robert C. Caesar and Lenora Campbell Caesar.[13]

Caesar attended high school at Arkansas State College. In 1940, Richard graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia where he was initiated at the Pi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. in December 1939.[14][15]

In 1956, Caesar married famed concert pianist and fashion model Lois Towles (April 4, 1912 – March 18, 1983), who trained under famed composer and pianist Arthur Rubinstein and Nadia Boulanger at the American Fontainebleau Schools.[16][17] They were married until her untimely death on March 18, 1983.[18][19] They had no children.[20]

Caesar later married Jeralene Elaine Williams Gilchrist-Caesar (1945–2013).[21][22] He had one stepson Jonathan Gilchrist.[23]

Military Career, Tuskegee Airmen[edit]

On September 6, 1942, Caesar graduated from the Tuskegee Flight School's Single Engine Section Class SE-42-H, earning his wings and a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant.[24] The U.S. Army Air Corps assigned Caesar to the 100th Fighter Squadron.[25][26][27]

One of 1,007 documented Tuskegee Airmen Pilots, Caesar was a member of Tuskegee's sixth cadet graduating class and one of the first 50 African American combat fighter pilots in history.[4] He was the cadet classmate of Robert W. Deiz, best known as the face of the popular 1943 “Keep Us Flying” World War II War Bonds poster created by Betsy Graves Reyneau, a white artist known for her portraits of prominent African Americans that circulated as part of the Harmon Foundation's traveling exhibition in the 1940s.[28][29]

In 1943, Caesar and crew chief Marcellus G. Smith saved fellow pilot Roscoe Brown from a potentially fatal aircraft crash.[30][31] Brown would go on to earn a Distinguished Flying Cross for heroics on a photographic reconnaissance mission over Munich, Germany on February 25, 1945 [32][33][34]

After World War II, Caesar served in Korea. He retired from the U.S. Air Force with the rank of Lt Colonel.[35]

Post-Military Career, Dental Career, Civic Leader[edit]

In 1951, Caesar graduated from Meharry Medical College]]'s Dentistry School, graduating in 1951.[36] He relocated to the San Francisco, California metropolitan area in Foster City, California.[37]

Practicing Dentistry for over 40 years. Caesar served as the President of the San Francisco Dental Society, the Northern California Medical and Dental and Pharmaceutical Association, and chair of the Pacific Area Section of the Academy of Dentistry International.[38]

Caesar also served as a lifetime governor of the San Francisco Symphony, and Board Chairman of the Buchanan Branch Young Men's Christian Association of San Francisco..[39]

Caesar's first wife, Lois, served as a Director of the San Francisco Symphony Foundation.[40][41][42][43]

A prominent philanthropist, Caesar donated over $100,000 to his alma mater, Meharry Medical College.[44] In 1984, he was the Young Men’s Christian Association-San Francisco's Humanitarian of Year award.[45]

Honors[edit]

  • Morehouse College's prestigious Bennie Trailblazer Award - 2009.
  • The Buchanan YMCA gymnasium renamed the "Dr. Richard C. Caesar Gymnasium".
  • Young Men’s Christian Association-San Francisco's Humanitarian of Year award - 1984.[46]

Death[edit]

Caesar passed away on December 20, 2011 at his home in Foster City, California.[47] He was 93 years old. Caesar was interred at the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California, Plot U 2663, in San Mateo County.[48][49]

See also[edit]


Other articles of the topics Biography AND Aviation : Henry B. Perry, Sidney P. Brooks, Terry J. Charlton, Jr, Alberto Nassetti, Reginald V. Smith, Leon C. “Derailer” Roberts, Pier Paolo Racchetti

Other articles of the topic Biography : Mangesh Kawade, José L. Santiago, List of people granted executive clemency by Joe Biden, Jimmy L. Glass, Joseph Edward Connolly, Blain Michael "Moon" Griffon, Eddy Shell

Other articles of the topic Aviation : 2019 Boeing 737 MAX groundings, Venus Airlines, Aviator Airlines, Baracuda Airways, Wings for Christ Airport, Abbas ibn Firnas, Sidney P. Brooks
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  • Executive Order 9981
  • List of Tuskegee Airmen
  • List of Tuskegee Airmen Cadet Pilot Graduation Classes
  • Military history of African Americans

References[edit]

  1. CAF Rise Above. "Tuskegee Airmen Pilot Roster." https://cafriseabove.org/the-tuskegee-airmen/tuskegee-airmen-pilot-roster/ . This data derives from CAF Rise Above's research project compiling data from Tuskegee Airmen historians including the Air Force Historical Research Agency.
  2. Sneider & Sullivan & O'Connell's Funeral Home . Obituary - "Dr. Richard C. Caesar." http://hosting-1085.tributes.com/obituary/show/Dr.-Richard-C.-Caesar-93014942
  3. ABC 7. "Tuskegee Airman laid to rest in San Mateo." By ABC7. December 30, 2011. https://abc7news.com/archive/8484247/
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Tuskegee Airmen Pilot Roster". CAF Rise Above. CAF Rise Above. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  5. Encyclopedia of Arkansas. "Original Tuskegee Airmen." https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/original-tuskegee-airmen-5430/
  6. My San Antonio. "WAYNE WRIGHT: MILITARY MATTERS: Tuskegee Airmen: A Cut Above." Wayne Wright. October 7, 2014. https://blog.mysanantonio.com/military-matters/2014/10/tuskegee-airmen-a-cut-above/
  7. My San Antonio. "WAYNE WRIGHT: MILITARY MATTERS: Tuskegee Airmen: A Cut Above." Wayne Wright. October 7, 2014. https://blog.mysanantonio.com/military-matters/2014/10/tuskegee-airmen-a-cut-above/
  8. Encyclopedia of Arkansas. "Original Tuskegee Airmen." https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/original-tuskegee-airmen-5430/
  9. The Times Leader. "Saluting an American Hero." Dan Stokes. May 8, 2019. https://www.timesleader.com/top-stories/742830/saluting-an-american-hero
  10. Soaring to Glory - A Tuskegee Airman's Firsthand Account of World War II. Philip Handleman with Harry T. Stewart Jr. June, 2021. ISBN 9781684511914 Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png.. https://www.regnery.com/9781684511914/soaring-to-glory/#:~:text=Soaring%20to%20Glory%20A%20Tuskegee%20Airman%27s%20Firsthand%20Account,back%20in%20the%20cockpit%20of%20my%20P-51C%20%27Kitten%27%21
  11. Prabook. "Richard Cornelius Caesar." https://prabook.com/web/richard_cornelius.caesar/664486
  12. Encyclopedia of Arkansas. "Original Tuskegee Airmen." https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/original-tuskegee-airmen-5430/
  13. Sneider & Sullivan & O'Connell's Funeral Home . Obituary - "Dr. Richard C. Caesar." http://hosting-1085.tributes.com/obituary/show/Dr.-Richard-C.-Caesar-93014942
  14. Watch the Yard. "Fly Nupes: Photos Of The Handsome And Daring Men Of Kappa Alpha Psi Who Served As Tuskegee Airmen." https://www.watchtheyard.com/kappas/tuskegee-airmen/2/
  15. Sneider & Sullivan & O'Connell's Funeral Home . Obituary - "Dr. Richard C. Caesar." http://hosting-1085.tributes.com/obituary/show/Dr.-Richard-C.-Caesar-93014942
  16. Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). Handbook of Texas. "Caesar, Lois Towles (1912–1983)." https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/caesar-lois-towles
  17. County Line Magazine. "Happy Birthday Lois Towles Caesar." Feb 24, 2021. Updated Jul 1, 2021. https://www.countylinemagazine.com/destination-guides/texarkana/happy-birthday-lois-towles-caesar/article_75af37ee-7241-11eb-8120-8b392eb846a2.html
  18. New York Times. "Lois Towles, Concert Pianist And College Music Instructor." March 25, 1983. https://www.nytimes.com/1983/03/25/obituaries/lois-towles-concert-pianist-and-college-music-instructor.html
  19. Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). Handbook of Texas. "Caesar, Lois Towles (1912–1983)." https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/caesar-lois-towles
  20. Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). Handbook of Texas. "Caesar, Lois Towles (1912–1983)." https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/caesar-lois-towles
  21. Jet Magazine. Jet Mar 2, 1972. https://books.google.com/books?id=ckQDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA38&lpg=PA38&dq=Richard+C.+Caesar&source=bl&ots=Ofq7SxZ3D-&sig=ACfU3U3w63HiMkROjXfeT3pMD6encBseoQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjT7trujonyAhUSGVkFHfqcCxcQ6AEwEnoECAgQAw#v=onepage&q=Richard%20C.%20Caesar&f=false
  22. Legacy. "Jeralene Elaine Williams Gilchrist-Caesar." https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/mercurynews/name/jeralene-gilchrist-caesar-obituary?pid=167311568
  23. Sneider & Sullivan & O'Connell's Funeral Home . Obituary - "Dr. Richard C. Caesar." http://hosting-1085.tributes.com/obituary/show/Dr.-Richard-C.-Caesar-93014942
  24. Caf Rise Above. "Tuskegee Airmen Pilot Roster." https://cafriseabove.org/the-tuskegee-airmen/tuskegee-airmen-pilot-roster/ . This data derives from Caf Rise Above's research project compiling data from Tuskegee Airmen historians including the Air Force Historical Research Agency.
  25. Sneider & Sullivan & O'Connell's Funeral Home . Obituary - "Dr. Richard C. Caesar." http://hosting-1085.tributes.com/obituary/show/Dr.-Richard-C.-Caesar-93014942
  26. CAF Rise Above. Class SE-42-H. https://cafriseabove.org/artifact/class-se-42-h/
  27. St Louis Times. "Lt James L. McCullin First Tuskegee Airman from St Louis. https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/lt-james-l-mccullin-first-tuskegee-airman-from-st-louis/article_4fd09182-5ed7-11df-9595-0017a4a78c22.html
  28. CAF Rise Above. "Robert W. Deiz." https://cafriseabove.org/robert-w-deiz/
  29. Rediscovering Black History. "Who Is He? A Long-Delayed Search for the Identity of the Airman Portrayed in a World War II Poster." Tligon. November 11, 2019. https://rediscovering-black-history.blogs.archives.gov/2019/11/11/who-is-he-a-long-delayed-search-for-the-identity-of-the-airman-portrayed-in-a-world-war-ii-poster/
  30. Encyclopedia of Arkansas. "Original Tuskegee Airmen." https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/original-tuskegee-airmen-5430/
  31. Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Roscoe Brown. https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/media/roscoe-brown-10692/
  32. Fifteenth Air Force General Order 1430 dated 15 Mar 1945
  33. Fifteenth Air Force General Order 2270 dated 11 April 1945
  34. TUSKEGEE AIRMEN CHRONOLOGY. DANIEL L. HAULMAN, ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY BRANCH, AIR FORCE HISTORICAL RESEARCH AGENCY, MAXWELL AFB, AL 36112-6424. 14 November 2011. https://www.tuskegee.edu/Content/Uploads/Tuskegee/files/TUSKEGEE_AIRMEN_CHRONOLOGY12.2011.pdf
  35. Sneider & Sullivan & O'Connell's Funeral Home . Obituary - "Dr. Richard C. Caesar." http://hosting-1085.tributes.com/obituary/show/Dr.-Richard-C.-Caesar-93014942
  36. Sneider & Sullivan & O'Connell's Funeral Home . Obituary - "Dr. Richard C. Caesar." http://hosting-1085.tributes.com/obituary/show/Dr.-Richard-C.-Caesar-93014942
  37. Encyclopedia of Arkansas. "Original Tuskegee Airmen." https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/original-tuskegee-airmen-5430/
  38. Sneider & Sullivan & O'Connell's Funeral Home . Obituary - "Dr. Richard C. Caesar." http://hosting-1085.tributes.com/obituary/show/Dr.-Richard-C.-Caesar-93014942
  39. Sneider & Sullivan & O'Connell's Funeral Home . Obituary - "Dr. Richard C. Caesar." http://hosting-1085.tributes.com/obituary/show/Dr.-Richard-C.-Caesar-93014942
  40. Jet Magazine. Mar 30, 1972. https://books.google.com/books?id=4rEDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA38&lpg=PA38&dq=Dr.+Richard+C.+Caesar&source=bl&ots=UcJ-Uv_yKu&sig=ACfU3U03FKvNEv-zoc3IIDQ8fhN_9nbCYA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi11p6CkonyAhUzFVkFHe6-A9sQ6AEwCXoECAoQAw#v=onepage&q=Dr.%20Richard%20C.%20Caesar&f=false
  41. jet Magazine. May 9, 1968. https://books.google.com/books?id=TzgDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA38&lpg=PA38&dq=dr.+richard+caesar+san+francisco+symphony+orchestra&source=bl&ots=iZaRAgMnM2&sig=ACfU3U0gw2gEkzAY7oJ38Re-RQ7WkZ8KKA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjm2srdlYnyAhX4ElkFHaVRCYIQ6AEwB3oECAgQAw#v=onepage&q=dr.%20richard%20caesar%20san%20francisco%20symphony%20orchestra&f=false
  42. Jet Magazine. Dec 18, 1975. https://books.google.com/books?id=arsDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA46&lpg=PA46&dq=dr.+richard+caesar+san+francisco+symphony+orchestra&source=bl&ots=ITdmA9mROg&sig=ACfU3U0Uta594S6YTyqZfrFiJWnStTuU7A&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjm2srdlYnyAhX4ElkFHaVRCYIQ6AEwCXoECAkQAw#v=onepage&q=dr.%20richard%20caesar%20san%20francisco%20symphony%20orchestra&f=false
  43. Jet Magazine. Aug 7, 1975 https://books.google.com/books?id=gLEDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA38&lpg=PA38&dq=dr.+richard+caesar+san+francisco+symphony+orchestra&source=bl&ots=MM2OE6ULoc&sig=ACfU3U0COoRBR9YNBD0zGnFVSE1m-LYJNQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiOxvfbmYnyAhUhFFkFHeDGCTQ4ChDoATAQegQICBAD#v=onepage&q=dr.%20richard%20caesar%20san%20francisco%20symphony%20orchestra&f=false
  44. Meharry Medical College GUARDIANS OF OUR LEGACY https://home.mmc.edu/alumni/alumni-association/
  45. Prabook. "Richard Cornelius Caesar." https://prabook.com/web/richard_cornelius.caesar/664486
  46. Prabook. "Richard Cornelius Caesar." https://prabook.com/web/richard_cornelius.caesar/664486
  47. neider & Sullivan & O'Connell's Funeral Home . Obituary - "Dr. Richard C. Caesar." http://hosting-1085.tributes.com/obituary/show/Dr.-Richard-C.-Caesar-93014942
  48. neider & Sullivan & O'Connell's Funeral Home . Obituary - "Dr. Richard C. Caesar." http://hosting-1085.tributes.com/obituary/show/Dr.-Richard-C.-Caesar-93014942
  49. ABC 7. "Tuskegee Airman laid to rest in San Mateo." By ABC7. December 30, 2011. https://abc7news.com/archive/8484247/


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