George Thomas Richards, 87, of Simsbury, CT, died Tuesday, January 7, 2020, with family at his side after an extended illness. Born in New Castle, PA, on October 3, 1932, he learned the value of hard work and perseverance early on, traits which served him well with various part time jobs throughout his childhood and on into an adulthood that was marked by success by virtually every measure of human achievement.
He was the son of the late Barton and Elizabeth (Weingartner) Richards and attended New Castle public schools. A 1950 graduate of New Castle High and a 1954 graduate of Penn State University, he served our country honorably in the United States Army with the 7th Infantry Division in Korea from 1954-1956 and then transferred to the inactive reserve until 1962.
After his service in Korea, he went on to study business and marketing at Harvard Business School and earned his MBA in June 1958. He met his future wife, Ann, while he was studying at Harvard and he married her on November 29, 1958. The two later settled in Connecticut, where they raised their family and established roots in the community together.
Over the years, George served on the Board of Directors of the Farmington River Watershed Association, the Board of Trustees of the First Congregational Church of Granby, and the Board of Trustees of the Mark Twain House and Museum. He was a longtime member of The First Church of Christ in Simsbury, helped with some key projects at the Simsbury Public Library and championed the arts through the Hartford Stage Company where he held season tickets for decades.
Always loyal to the people and organizations he loved, he was an ardent supporter of Penn State’s alumni association and earned the distinction of being named as one of twenty Centennial Fellows during the 100th anniversary of the founding of the College of Liberal Arts at Penn State. He lived a life of exemplary integrity and honor and expected the same from those around him. He was known for his sense of humor, his strong will and his eternal optimism. He pursued his professional dream of owning and running his own business and grew his company, Vitex Packaging, to be a world leader in packaging for tea and other goods, and he served on the Board of Directors for the US Tea Association.
He enjoyed traveling the world, history and, most especially, spending time with his family and friends. He had a keen interest in genealogy and wrote the book Down the Richards Line about the history of his family and he helped build the foundation from which his family could launch, and to which they would return time and time again. He enjoyed teaching his grandchildren to fish and taking them to his garden plots to pick fresh vegetables in the summer and he relished large family vacations and cooking his father’s recipe for spaghetti sauce.
He is survived by his four children: Thomas Richards of Simsbury, CT, Barbara Karpiniski of Greenville, RI, Sally Lehr of Wayland, MA, and Nancy Richards-Cavanaugh of Hopkinton, MA, as well as their spouses: Kimberly Richards, Frank Karpinksi, Michael Lehr and Neil Cavanaugh, his 14 grandchildren, and a sister, Ann Brooks. He is predeceased by his parents and by his wife of 54 years, Ann (Stiegler) Richards.
Calling hours will be held at Vincent Funeral Home, 800 Hopmeadow St, Simsbury, CT, on Friday, January 17, 2020, from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM and a celebration of his life will be held at First Church of Christ, 689 Hopmeadow St, Simsbury, CT, on Saturday, January 18, 2020, at 2:00 PM. Burial will take place at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers, those who wish may make donations in his memory to Simsbury Public Library (www.simsburylibrary.info ), 725 Hopmeadow St, Simsbury, CT 06070 or to Simsbury Land Trust (www.simsburylandtrust.org ), P.O Box 634, Simsbury, CT 06070.