Richard Corbeil, newspaper columnist, dies at 86

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Richard Corbeil Sr., a columnist for more than 30 years for The Apopka Chief, died Saturday, February 6. He was 86.

A supporter of conservative ideals and politicians, Corbeil’s columns often struck nerves on both sides of an issue with people usually coming down in enthusiastic agreement or severe disagreement with his columns. John Ricketson, publisher of the newspaper, said that some of the paper’s subscribers did so primarily so they could read Corbeil’s columns, while others canceled their subscriptions because of what he wrote for the paper’s opinion page.

Born in Peabody, Mass., Corbeil and Marilyn, his wife of almost 67 years, moved to Apopka in 1984 with their son Jason, who died a few years ago, and Dick began working at The Apopka Chief in 1989 when the column, Corbei’s Corner, was born. Through the years, he had about 1,500 columns printed in the newspaper. He also served as a reporter for the newspaper for several years, covering sports and other areas of the community.

“Dick was part of our family here at The Apopka Chief and while we may not have always agreed with his column or the way he wrote it, we always would defend it as it made us all think about our own opinions,” Ricketson said.

Although he left New England in the 1980s, Corbeil still supported the professional sports teams from the Boston area, decorating his desk area with Red Sox items. He also was known to wear a New England Tom Brady jersey to the office on a Monday after a big win by the Patriots of the National Football League.

Corbeil loved the warmer climes of Central Florida as opposed to the winter weather of New England.

“If the temperature got below 70, Dick would have some sort of light jacket on, and if it got into the 40s, he was very likely to make a joke about needing ice skates to get to the office,” said John Peery, editor of the newspaper. “He always talked about how a couple of blizzards in the 1970s and 1980s sent him and his family south.”

Strong and faithful Christians, Dick and Marilyn worshiped for many years at Thrive Apopka Assembly of God Church in Apopka. He always included a Bible verse at the end of his columns.

An avid golfer, he continued to play until a few years ago as he and his wife could be seen playing nine holes at the former Errol Estate golf course after a summer workday.

He was a strong supporter of the Jewish people, as well as the country of Israel.

Corbeil graduated from Harvard University in 1956 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. The Corbeils started and ran a successful real estate company, Transfermation Realty in Peabody, Mass., for more than 15 years.

In addition to his wife, Dick Corbeil is survived by children, Noelle, Richard Jr., and Celeste; grandchildren, Jennifer, Mariah, Zachary, Shylah, Samantha, and Bridgett; great-grandchildren, Lincoln, Jack, Mason, and Maisie.

Loomis Family Funeral Home of Apopka is handling arrangements, and a celebration of life service will be held Saturday, March 6, at 11 a.m. at Thrive Apopka Assembly of God Church, 951 N. Park Avenue.