Oct. 20, 1911 – Dec. 15, 2012
Paul J. Rich Jr. was an Eagle Scout, the oldest surviving former University of Buffalo football player, the longtime head of Rich Ice Cream Co. and a community leader who celebrated his 100th birthday last year.
He also hailed from one of Buffalo’s oldest and most distinguished families, as the older brother of the late Robert E. Rich Sr., who founded Rich Products Corp. The brothers were the 11th-generation members of their family, which settled in Salem, Mass., in the 1650s.
“Dad has done the line very proud,” one of his sons, Paul, said at his father’s 100th birthday party last year. “He wasn’t at Lexington, but one of us was. If he lives to 150, people will think he was.”
Mr. Rich died late Saturday in his Amherst home at age 101.
He was in the news most recently in October 2011, when he and his second wife, Kay, renewed their wedding vows at the Country Club of Buffalo, celebrating their 12th wedding anniversary, just two days after his 100th birthday.
“I feel like I live with my mature Eagle Scout, football player, boyfriend and world traveler,” Kay Rich said that day. “At night, I feel like I’m with my high school boyfriend.”
A Buffalo native, Mr. Rich was a member of the first graduating class of Bennett High School, in 1929. His future wife, Doris Miller, was the valedictorian of the class. He was the salutatorian before heading to UB, where he played guard on the university football team, once running 65 yards with a blocked kick against Harvard.
After graduating from UB in 1933, Mr. Rich did his postgraduate work at Cornell University, where he was a member of the Statler Club of Cornell.
He then began his long business career, as part-owner and manager of the Fairfax Hotel, longtime president of Rich Ice Cream and board chairman of the Wyomissing Corp., a national textile and paper company.
Mr. Rich also served on numerous boards of directors, including Liberty National Bank, Deaconess Hospital, Villa Maria College and Buffalo General Hospital. Believed to be one of the local area’s first Eagle Scouts, he also was a charter member and executive board member of the Greater Niagara Frontier Council of Boy Scouts.
Traveling was one of his favorite hobbies. With his first wife, Doris, he made more than 20 around-the-world trips, traveling extensively on six continents. He also was a member of the Country Club of Buffalo and a former member of the Buffalo Club.
Family members stressed how he always treated others, no matter who they were, with dignity, never raising his voice.
“I loved that he has always been an exemplary gentleman, in the style of the 1950s,” said his daughter, Judith Lauder.
Mr. Rich’s first wife of 64 years, Doris J. Miller Rich, died in January 1998.
Survivors include his second wife of 13 years, the former Kay Slesinger; two sons, Paul J. III and Bruce M.; and a daughter, Judith R. Lauder.
A private service has been scheduled.
– Gene Warner