Don Richards, former development officer and longtime friend of the College, died June 18, at the age of 100.
A 1939 Princeton graduate in economics, Don also took courses in law and business management at Rutgers. He joined the U.S. Army in 1941, earning a Bronze Star and remaining a major in the retired reserve until 1953.
In 1939 he started work at the Merck pharmaceuticals firm in New Jersey, and returned there after his military service. In 1949 he married Jean Andrews, who was a chemist at Merck, and they had a son and daughter. He worked in purchasing, sales, and marketing, before leaving Merck in 1971 to join Skidmore as a development officer. He became director of development the next year, and in 1979 he was appointed as Skidmore’s first-ever director of planned giving, fostering support through bequests, trusts, real estate, and other long-term arrangements.
Don Blunk, who was Skidmore’s next planned-giving director after Don Richards retired in 1984, recalls being grateful for his mentorship: “Right on up to about 2009, Don would call with an idea about how to approach someone he thought might be able contribute to Skidmore projects.” Blunk followed Richards’s routine of visiting many Florida alumni each January and says “for many, many years I was told, ‘Please give my regards to Don and Jean.’” Blunk notes that Richards helped Skidmore build its new campus “by working closely with the likes of Eric Jonsson, Marjorie Saisselin Woodbury ’35, George Colton, Janet Kinghorn Bernhard ’26, Joe and Anne Palamountain, George and Helen Filene Ladd ’22, and so many others.” Blunk adds, “While he worked hard for many charitable organizations, including his Princeton alma mater, Don had a special passion for Skidmore.”
After his retirement, the Richardses continued to support the College and were welcome regulars at a variety of events and fundraisers; as recently as 2012 he accepted his invitation to the Palamountain Scholarship polo gala. Parker Diggory, Skidmore’s director of religious and spiritual life, calls the couple “beloved members of our church” as well as “great friends to the College.”
Don is survived by Jean and their children, Donald K. (Judith) Richards Jr. of Morristown, N.J., and Susan McKay of Holden, Maine. He also leaves four grandchildren and their spouses and families, including three great-grandchildren.