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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Dick Whalen, ODU’s First Director of Military Activities, Dies at 77

By Joe Garvey

Dick Whalen, who served as Old Dominion University's first director of military activities and oversaw a significant increase in military enrollments, died Aug. 13 of complications from melanoma. He was 77.

Whalen came to ODU in 1991, while he was commanding officer of the Navy's Hampton Roads Naval ROTC Unit. Then-President James Koch hired him to the University's staff in 1993. By the time Whalen retired in 2012, military-affiliated enrollments grew to nearly 25% of the student body. Under his coordination of ODU's ROTC activity, the University's Army and Naval units experienced a student growth rate of approximately 300%, making them among the largest in the nation.

Whalen helped the University increase its military partnerships, contacts and agreements. He was known as a tireless promoter of "all things military" at ODU.

"Dick Whalen strengthened ODU's relationships with all branches of the military and helped build our nationally recognized reputation as a military-friendly institution," President John R. Broderick said.

He was a native of Hawaii and was the son of a career Naval officer. After graduating from Maury High School, Whalen went on to the Naval Academy, graduating in 1963. He reached the rank of captain before retiring 30 years later.

He was also well known for his involvement in the Hampton Roads soccer community. As president of Beach FC, he led the creation of the nonprofit Hampton Roads Soccer Council and its 75-acre soccer complex. He then founded the North American Sand Soccer Championships, serving as director for 25 years. Now the largest sand soccer tournament in the world, it has raised more than $5 million.

Whalen is survived by his wife of 55 years, Marti, of Virginia Beach; sons Scott (wife Dawn and daughters Emily and Abigail of New Hartford, Conn.), Todd (wife Isabel and children Edward and Eleanor of Everett, Wash.), Matthew (wife Kristen and children Hannah, Carter, and Keegan of Virginia Beach); and brother Curtis and wife Linda of Annandale.

The family is asking that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Dick Whalen Memorial Fund with the Hampton Roads Soccer Council.

A visitation will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 6 at Holloman-Brown Funeral Great Neck Chapel, followed by a celebration of life at 1 p.m. Sept. 7 at First Presbyterian Church in Virginia Beach.

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