Richard Jess McCollim, the noted Spanish and medical translator, and 31-year resident of Lemon Grove, died on Sept. 10 at home with his wife, Dora, and daughter, Elena, at his side. He was 85.
Richard was born in Oxnard into an accomplished family with many intellectual interests. His gift for languages, especially Spanish, was evident early in life and led to his extensive travels in Mexico. There, he met the love of his life, Dora Medina, whom he married in Mazatlan in 1963 after a two-year courtship. Their daughter was born later that year.
The young family lived in Mexico City, where Richard worked as a journalist and translator. In 1968 he was a translator for the Olympic Committee at the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City. Later, the family resided near San Jose del Cabo in rural Baja California in the years before airports and paved roads. There, Richard also worked as a tutor and as a translator for the Flying Samaritans.
In 1972, the McCollims settled in San Diego, where Dora became a teacher in the San Diego Unified School District and Richard, a medical translator at Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation. He became head of the translations department and an early "computer geek." After retirement, he provided volunteer computer instruction to Dora's elementary school students.
In 1983, after settling in Lemon Grove, the family continued to travel and enjoy hiking and picnicking in the Cuyamaca Mountains. Richard became an avid researcher into diseases of the eye, publishing papers in scientific journals and attending conferences in the U.S., Brazil and Spain, as well as England, France, Chile and Argentina.
Richard loved the world of ideas and was an avid reader and conversationalist, a music lover (he played the guitar), a follower of political and social events, and a generous contributor of his time as a translator for nonprofit groups.
His neighbors, Jack and Helen Ofield, enjoyed trading copies of The New Yorker for his copies of New York Review of Books and Atlantic Monthly.
"Of course, Richard had read them from cover to cover and remembered everything while we were racing to keep up," recalls Helen Ofield. "He had a brilliant mind and a questing spirit."
Richard is survived by Dora and Elena and his granddaughter, Ana-Sofia; sister Jeanne Talbert; brother Donald McCollim; cousins Lee and Neil Massick and Marjorie Biggs; and numerous nieces and nephews and countless friends. His brother Lawrence predeceased him in 1951.
As Elena wrote of her father, "His goodness can never be repaid; his quiet heroism will never be forgotten."