Former JC fencing coach dies in snow plow incident

Former JC fencing coach dies in snow plow incident

Patrick Oles began the fencing program at JC, which ended after he left. Oles was killed Jan. 27 when he was hit by a snow plow. (Photo courtesy of Joan Larney)

Former JC fencing coach Richard Oles was killed by a snow plow in a hit-and-run on Jan. 27.

According to CBS Baltimore, Oles’ car had been towed to a gas station and he was walking home along Mountain Road in Pasadena. 77 year-old Oles was prevented from walking on the sidewalk by the snow and was forced to walk on the road. Around 2:30 a.m., he was slammed by a truck with a snow plow attached to the front.

A witness dialed 911 and reported that a red Ford F-350 with a plow had struck Oles, and kept driving. He was taken to Baltimore-Washington Medical Center where he died later that morning.

Oles was a fencing coach at JC in the late 1960s. President Emeritus Charles K. Riepe hired him to start the fencing program, and when Oles left in 1970 the program ended.  Oles’ exact years at JC could not be found in any records.

“I knew him [Oles] and respected him. I used to talk to him after practice,”  former gym teacher Adolph Pons said. “We were probably the only private school in the area with such a good program [fencing program],” Pons said, dedicating the success of the program to Oles.

Outside of JC, Oles coached at John Hopkins University for 45 years before retiring in 2003. He was inducted into the John Hopkins Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995.

“One of his friends from fencing said in an article in The Sun that he’d never met anyone so focused on one thing, and that’s the impression that I got. I’m glad someone said it first, because I think it’s accurate,” religion teacher Bernie Mullin said.

Mullin and Pons agreed that Oles was dedicated to his sport and that he touched lives through his coaching.

In an entry on Stallings Funeral Home’s online guestbook a former student’s mother, Sue Foster, said, “He gave my son the greatest gift in fencing. This taught him there is no back up, you are alone when you fence, you have to perform. In this my son learned the greatest lesson. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that he gave so much of his self to so many. I’ll always remember Dick Oles and he’ll be in my prayers.”

Emily Clarke is a contributing writer for

Additional reporting by Martha Shick.