Dick dedicated his career to the interaction between logic, language and computation, making significant contributions in both academia and industry. His Ph.D. dissertation at MIT was about the English dative alternation. For many years, he worked as a professor of linguistics at the University of Arizona. In his scientific publications, he delved into Lambek calculus, categorial grammars, and labeled deduction.
Here's an old quote from Geoff Pullum about one of Dick's talks back in 2004:
"Friday afternoon's colloquium in my department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, was by a modest man whose modesty is completely unjustified. Dick Oehrle doesn't do anything much in the way of self promotion. He just produces wonderfully rich research papers, mildly unorthodox but not intellectually isolated, often very technical -- quite a bit of logic and mathematics. His fascinating talk on Friday was built from a detailed examination of the extraordinary surprises of the English tense and modality system and a proposal about the precise description of the meanings of the tenses. "Fasten your seatbelts," said Dick quietly just before launching into the main part of the talk."
In 2004, Dick joined Cataphora, a startup that analyzed and predicted human behaviour from large amounts of digital information in the contexts of investigation and litigation. As Chief Linguist, Dick built and led the computational linguistics group at Cataphora for nearly a decade at which point he joined EY (formerly Ernst & Young) as a key man when Cataphora sold its private sector digital investigation and e-discovery business. After four years at EY, he semi-retired, joining Chenope on a part-time basis. Dick brought in invaluable computational linguistic expertise. He inspired everyone on board with his continuing intellectual curiosity, and the enthusiasm for work he believed in and loved - even after his diagnosis.
It was an extraordinary privilege and honor to get to know him and work with Dick, even if briefly. He was a very gentle and kind man, never too busy to explain a concept, or assist a colleague. He will be greatly missed by all of us at Chenope.
-- Katya Saint-Amand, PhD Senior Linguist, Chenope Ltd ksaintamand at chenope.com www.chenope.com