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Raymond A. Rich 1912-2009

Jun 25, 2009

Raymond A. Rich, a major industrialist and business leader, passed away on June 19, 2009, at the age of 97 in Esopus, NY.

Mr. Rich, a resident of Boca Grande, FL, was born in Los Angeles, CA, on Jan. 11, 1912, to Arthur and Lucy Baker Rich. He was raised in Des Moines and started his career by hiring on to a tramp freighter for a job in the engine room at age 18. After receiving a double engineering degree from Iowa State University, he was hired in the midst of the Depression by General Electric Company and became their youngest National Sales Manager at that time. He was awarded the rare “E Award” for overseeing GE’s multiple war production plant facilities. Mr. Rich then was asked to lead the federal Northeast District for the Council for Economic Development. He volunteered for active duty in World War II in the Navy and Marines and served in the South Pacific Islands and after the Japanese surrender in Tokyo.

After the war, Mr. Rich became Vice President and Director of Philco Corporation and then accepted the Presidency and Directorship of Avco Corporation. From there his career escalated to multiple, simultaneous CEO and Chairman positions of numerous companies. The sectors ranged from oil and gas exploration and production, publishing, glass containers, and banks to environmental engineering and production facilities. In this latter category, he led U.S. Filter Corporation as Chairman and CEO to a significant role in its field, increasing revenues twenty-fold in the 1970s.

Upon retiring from active corporate life, Mr. Rich focused on acquiring various real estate properties. In addition to his primary residence in Boca Grande, FL, he owned at various times in his life cattle ranches in Arizona and Oklahoma, corn and soybean farms in Iowa, townhouses in New York City, property in the Hudson River Valley, homes in Downeast Maine, a castle in the Scottish Highlands, a 12th-century castle in Austria, and a chateau in France. He enjoyed sharing all of these places with his family and friends.

Mr. Rich was a member of the University Club for over 60 years and the Union Club, both in New York City, and the Boca Grande Club and Gasparilla Inn Club of Florida.

Mr. Rich’s wife, Virginia, died in 1985. He is survived by his daughter, Susan Sheridan; his son, John; four grandchildren; three great-grandsons; and his loving companion, Claire Carlson.

A memorial service was held at the Corea Baptist Church, Corea, ME, with interment following at the local cemetery.