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Remembering Richard Cromwell III

From the Desert Sun:

Richard Cromwell III, 78, died on February 17, 2020, President’s Day. He died at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs. The family was with him at the end and had the chance to say goodbye. Early last year he was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) which is a type of lung disease. Back in October of 2019 his health drastically declined and he was bed ridden at his home. About a week before he passed he suffered a heart attack and fell. After fighting for several days in the hospital the doctors informed the family his heart was failing and he would not recover. His family got to spend a few extra days with him, talking with him, telling stories, cracking jokes and keeping him comfortable.

Richard, better known to his friends and family as Dick Cromwell, was born on February 03, 1942 in San Diego, CA. His father was Richard Cromwell Jr, and his mother was Carol Brush Cromwell. He was raised and worked in the greater San Diego area where he met his wife, Sandra Foss. They married in 1965 and enjoyed the following 54+ years together.

Majoring in business, Dick Cromwell attended San Diego City College and Cal Western before he joined the 12-store Walker Scott chain in 1960. He became the chain’s youngest store manager, in San Diego, at the age of 25.

Dick and Sandra first moved to Palm Springs in 1970 where Dick had the opportunity to open a department store for Walker Scott. He served as Vice President and General Manager for five years. Later he was with the Anita of Denmark Cosmetics in Palm Springs and had his own consulting service. In 1977, he went to work for Harris’ as general manager at the Indio Fashion Mall’s Harris’. He was then tagged to open the Hemet Harris’ after which he was transferred to San Bernardino where he served as general manager of the “flagship” store. Dick found a new opportunity at Sunline Transit Agency, where he became the Director of Transportation and eventually became the General Manager and CEO. He led the Agency to become the first transit agency in the Country to convert its entire fleet from diesel to Compressed Natural Gas and he put the first fuel cell bus into service. He was a founding member of the Coachella Valley Region Clean Cities Coalition. In the early years of the coalition, a series of clean natural gas stations were developed featuring public access. The coalition helped local fleets find grant funds to assist with vehicle procurement. Through his leadership, hydrogen fueling infrastructure and vehicles were also implemented in the Coachella Valley. During his time at Sunline he met billionaire T. Boone Pickens and businessman Andrew Littlefair and helped form Clean Energy Fuels with its main goal to reduce pollution in the transportation industry through the use of alternative fuels. He left Sunline in 2003. He remained on the Board at Clean Energy Fuels and started his own consulting company, Richard Cromwell III & Associates. He worked on various projects for the city of Desert Hot Springs and the Coachella Valley.

He was constantly involved with the community, he served on the board of directors of United Way of the Desert, the Riverside County Fair, Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce. He was also a member of the Inland Cities Better Business Bureau Advisory Committee, Indio Chamber of Commerce, Riverside County Economic Development Council, and the Advisory Committee of Indio Community Hospital. He served as the Planning Commissioner for the City of Desert Hot Springs and spent a few years on the City Council. He served as the President of the Palm Springs Unified School District for 5 years. He was on the board of directors for the Desert Hot Springs Renaissance Group which provides financial assistance to the City’s grants program. He was Vice President of the Desert Hot Springs Historical Society as well and his most recent project was the restoration of a historical rock house called “Pil-O-Rox.”

The amount of projects and organizations he was involved with was endless and always evolving. He loved to be involved and had a passion for working with people to improve the city and community.

Dick Cromwell is survived by his wife, Sandra, his sons, Richard Cromwell IV, and Gerald T. Cromwell, his sister Carole Andrea Ross, his Daughters-in-law, Brittiny, and Amber, and four grandchildren, Lucy, Richard V, Penelope and Jackson.

A Celebration of Life will be held to honor Dick Cromwell at Cabot’s Pueblo Museum in Desert Hot Springs from 5pm-7pm on March 21, 2020. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be given to the Desert Hot Springs Historical Society.