Richard J. Mihm, a longtime resident of Glastonbury, died peacefully at Rosemark, an assisted-living facility in Denver, Colorado on Friday, March 16. He was the devoted husband of Joan Mihm, to whom he has been married for 61 years. A loving father and grandfather, Mihm had long served the town of Glastonbury in many roles: teacher, school administrator, town official, and volunteer. Mihm was born in Audubon, New Jersey to the late William J. Mihm and Margaret Anderson. The third of five sons in a working-class family, he grew up juggling numerous jobs to help make ends. From a very early age, he exhibited considerable intelligence and academic promise. Though his family could not afford to send him to college, he aced a statewide examination, earning a fellowship that gave him four years of free tuition at Rutgers University. He graduated from Rutgers in 1956 with a degree in Geology. That same year, he met his future wife, Joan Markle, while swimming at a university pool. Both often recalled catching sight of one another while underwater, rising to the surface, and beginning a conversation. They married several months later, shortly after his graduation. On their wedding day, though, Richard received a draft notice, and after a short honeymoon, he went to Darmstadt, Germany with the United States Army. After returning home in 1958, Richard earned a Master’s Degree in Geology at Columbia University. He moved to Glastonbury in 1962, and began teaching Physics at Glastonbury High School. He swiftly revised much of the existing curriculum, substituting hands-on laboratory work for lectures. Between 1965 and 1970, the number of students taking high-school physics at Glastonbury High School increased five hundred percent. Mihm graduated with a Master’s Degree in Physics from Trinity College in 1970. Mihm’s efforts led to local, and eventually, national recognition. His innovative teaching methods earned him an Outstanding Young Educator Award from the Glastonbury Jaycees; he later won other awards, most notably a Teacher Recognition Award given by the American Association of Physics Teachers. In 1974, he became Director of Science in the Glastonbury Public Schools, overseeing science instruction throughout the entire school system. During this same decade, Mihm became fascinated by the dawning computer age. He began using computers in classes as early as 1970, and subsequently introduced courses that taught students the fundamentals of computer logic and programming. Eager to participate in the digital revolution directly, Mihm left teaching in 1979 to take a position at Quodata, a company that produced educational software. He later joined the Phoenix Insurance Company as a senior systems analyst, a position he held until his retirement in 2000. Throughout his time in Glastonbury, Mihm made many contributions to the town. He served as an interim town council member in 1991; he also served as a member, and eventually the head, of the town’s Conservation Commission; the president of the Glastonbury Education Association; and the treasurer of the Great Meadows Conservation Trust. After his retirement, he volunteered extensively at the Glastonbury Historical Society, producing several slideshows on the town’s history.
Mihm is survived by his wife Joan Mihm of Glastonbury; his brother, Francis Mihm of Lindenwold, New Jersey; his daughter, Kathy Mihm Dunning and her husband Jeff Dunning of Denver, Colorado; his son, Stephen Mihm and wife Akela Reason of Watkinsville, Georgia; and his four grandchildren: Alisa Dunning; and Silas, Asher, and Linus Mihm. Friends may call at Mulryan Funeral Home, 725 Hebron Avenue, Glastonbury, on Monday, March 26 from 4:00 to 6:00 pm. A funeral service will be held Tuesday, March 27 at St. James Episcopal Church at 2584 Main Street in Glastonbury at 10 am. Burial will follow at the Green Cemetery in Glastonbury. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Damariscotta River Association, P.O. Box 333, Damariscotta, ME 04543 or the Great Meadows Conservation Trust, PO Box 171, Glastonbury, CT 06033.