Richard Elliott Chelius Obituary – Florida Times-Union

Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home


Richard Elliott (Dick) Chelius LCDR (R) of Jacksonville passed away at the age of 92 on December 12, 2021. On September 4th,1929, Dick was born to the late Raymond Carl and Marie Lillian Blacklock Chelius in Buffalo (Kenmore), New York. Richard attended Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburg where he was a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity and successfully graduated with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. He also held a Master of Business Administration from Arizona State University. He performed graduate work in economics at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland and held a diploma from the Nestle founded IMD- Institute for Management Development (IMEDE) in Lausanne. In his early career, he worked in engineering and management for the General Electric Company in the United States and Europe.

Dick went on to serve for 22 years as an Aviator in the US Navy and US Naval Reserve. He was qualified to pilot military and civilian aircraft, including piston, jet, and multi-engine fixed wing aircraft as well as helicopters. He achieved the rank of Lieutenant Commander and retired in 1976.

Dick met his beloved Kerstin in a student café in Lausanne, Switzerland. They were married in Seglora Church in Stockholm, Sweden, honeymooned in India, and then settled in New York City where their daughter Anita was born. Together they bought and merged four small companies in New York City to form an import and national wholesale distribution business of clocks and music boxes. In 1970 they moved the business and their small family to Jacksonville, Florida.

Over his career, Dick worked as a business analyst and commercial construction project manager in the US, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. His US commercial projects included the Chrysler Technology Center in Auburn Hills, Michigan and the West Palm Beach Courthouse in Florida. In Ethiopia, he established the sole import and distribution dealership in Ethiopia for General Motors cars and trucks. He was instrumental in setting up a telecommunication sales company in Addis Ababa and sold the first MITEL private business telephone exchange in Ethiopia. Later, he became a senior project manager over the construction of three factories in Addis Ababa. He worked in and out of Ethiopia for eight years until retiring to Jacksonville in 2001. By the end of his career, Dick was proud to say that he had traveled across the Atlantic Ocean 81 times.

A long-time member of the Rotary Club of North Jacksonville, Dick served as club president in 2008-2009. During his year as president, the club was recognized for its longtime reading and book distribution program for first graders in Duval County Schools.

Dick valued education and his great joy was the accomplishments of his family. He is survived by his loving wife of 57 years Kerstin Sandmark Chelius, their daughter Anita Freyer, her husband Chris Freyer, and their three children, Danielle Freyer, 1LT Nicholas Freyer, and Nathaniel Freyer.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in honor of Dick by making checks payable to The Rotary Charities of North Jacksonville: Memo Line- Childhood Reading Center at Community Health Outreach (Memory of Richard Chelius). Please send to: Rotary Charities of North Jacksonville, C/O Synovus Bank. 521 Airport Center Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32211.

A Celebration of Life will be held at San Jose Episcopal Church at 11:00am on December 20th, 2021.

Posted online on December 17, 2021

Published in Florida Times Union

Service Information


San Jose Episcopal Church
7423 San Jose Blvd
Jacksonville, FL 32217

December 20, 2021 at 11:00 AM