Richard Eliot Nemetz, known to family and friends as Rich or Rick, passed away on October 8, 2023, at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, CA from the cumulative effects of pneumonia, septic infection, renal failure, and Covid. He resisted going to the doctor and by the time his condition had deteriorated to the point he had to be hospitalized, it was too late.
Rich was born on April 22, 1954, in Boston, MA. Rich was a proud veteran of the San Diego Police Department (SDPD), an equally proud husband and father, and was probably best known for his sense of humor and his love of a good story; he especially loved laughing at his own good stories. Quite a few of those stories were even true!
Rich is immediately survived by his wife, Wendy Ziemer-Nemetz and his son, Jeremy Nemetz. He also leaves behind: his sister, Dorothy Nemetz, and her husband, John Todd; his brother Jim Nemetz and his wife, Deb Nemetz; his sister Theodora Knight; his step-sister Anne Kreeger; his nieces Hannah Todd, Anna Nemetz and Sarah Nemetz; his nephew Abraham Todd and his wife, Joyce Chan, and their two daughters, Elli Nemetz Chan and Talia Nemetz Chan.
Rich was predeceased by: his parents, S. Joseph Nemetz and Zena Nemetz; his nephew Eli Todd; his grandmothers Esther Prager and Miriam Nemetz; his aunt and uncle, Shirley and Paul Dichter; and, his great-uncle, Max Grossman.
Rich began his career in law enforcement in 1978 as a Patrolman with the SDPD. He served primarily in the Eastern, Northeastern, and Northern Divisions, and accumulated numerous achievements and advancements within the department. In November 1979, he became a Field Training Officer (FTO), and enjoyed imparting his knowledge and experience to new recruits.
In 1980, Rich joined the SWAT team in September 1980, which entailed maintaining a high degree of physical fitness and engaging in some very dangerous situations. He was promoted from Agent to the rank of Sergeant in 1986. He was also a member of the K9 Unit (1992), and later assuming the role of Acting Duty Lieutenant in the Watch Commanders Office (1996). He retired from the SDPD in April 2009.
The love and respect Rich’s fellow officers had for him is reflected in the comments left on his page on the SDPD site for deceased officers, http://www.sdpolicemuseum.com/Richard-Nemetz.html: “Rich was a great guy, a mentor and a friend.” “When my son passed away from cancer, he was there for me…he became my go to guy for advice.” “He was a dedicated body builder and a model police officer.” “He always had time to talk with his friends.” “[He was] a crucial member of San Diego’s Finest.” “He would talk your ear off if you let him when you stopped by the Watch Commander’s Office.”
Rich loved the comradery of the police force and all the friends he made there. Even after he retired, he essentially remained a member of the graveyard shift. He always saw himself as part of a “tribe’ and he took pride when cops anywhere did a good job and was quite troubled when they did not live up to his standards. He had many strong opinions about how police should be trained and paid.
Before joining the SDPD, Rich graduated from Boston University’s College of Liberal Arts in June 1976, earning a B.A. in Sociology with a major in Criminology and a minor in Psychology. He also completed two courses towards a Master’s in Urban Affairs at B.U. In 1976-77. While with the SDPD, he completed a host of specialized training programs and certifications, including advanced field training officer courses, terrorism research seminars, and interrogation techniques seminars. He also taught a number of courses, and especially enjoyed teaching martial arts.
In his leisure time, Rich was a devoted body builder and had a particular affinity for “heavy duty” pursuits. He liked to trick out various vehicles, including cars, boats, and motorcycles – particularly his beloved Toyota Land Cruiser and 2012 Ford Truck. He never tired of telling people that his stone house in Jamul had walls of rock that were 18 inches thick.
Rich especially loved being out on the open water, on the ocean or in the river. In 2012 he traveled to Portland OR to purchase a unique metal boat, the 2000 Munson "Packman," which he kept in a slip at Chula Vista Marina. He’d also just hang out on his boat at the marina, shooting the breeze with fellow boaters. It was sad for him when his health deteriorated to the point where it became impractical to keep the boat; he sold it in 2016.
An avid follower of the news, Rich was always up on current events and liked to talk about them with friends and family. Another favorite pastime was finding investment properties to buy, and then having Wendy do all the work of actually purchasing, fixing up, maintaining and renting out the properties. Joking aside, he was immensely proud of Wendy’s abilities as a landlord and do-it-yourself renovator.
And Rich was especially proud of his son, Jeremy. There wasn’t an accomplishment Jeremy achieved that Rich didn’t crow about to friends and family, even when - and especially when - those accomplishments were in fields Rich knew almost nothing about.
Rich always remained closely connected to his brother, Jim, and his sister, Dorothy. He was a great source of comfort to Dorothy after the death of her son, Eli, a loss he also felt profoundly.
In what turned out to be the last decade of his life, Rich survived a number of health crises, including a bout of prostate cancer in 2018. There were a few times where it seemed he was at death’s door, yet he pulled through and, with heroic assistance from Wendy, recovered. It is a huge loss to all who knew him that he didn’t pull through this time.
We will remember Rich for his sometimes bizarre sense of humor, his somewhat obsessive attention to his cars and boats, his admiration for his wife and son, his ability to amuse himself and others with his over-the-top tales, and for the care and compassion he gave to those who needed him.