Family gift honors enduring contributions of two UB citizens
obert E. Rich Jr. and David A. Rich, together with their families, have pledged a significant gift to UB for an alumni building named in honor of their parents, Janet W. and Robert E. Rich Sr.
In announcing the gift at a press conference October 20, Robert E. Rich III, president of Extra Mile Transportation, and Ted Rich, regional sales manager, Rich’s Foodservice Division, spoke of their grandparents’ fondness for UB. As a student, Robert E. Rich Sr. brought the spotlight to college wrestling and captained the UB football team for a then-unprecedented two years in a row.
The late Janet Rich eloped with college classmate and sweetheart Bob Rich when she accompanied him to Cornell for a UB wrestling match in March 1934. En route, they stopped at the Presbyterian manse in Alden, New York, and were married, but kept their marriage secret for another few months. Helping her husband and raising a family intervened before she finally received her bachelor’s degree from UB in 1994.
Janet W. Rich, who died in 1998, was active in her husband’s business affairs, managing the office of the small dairy in the mid-1930s and becoming a vice president and member of the corporate board of directors when Rich Products began in 1945. A leader of prayer classes and Bible groups, she also was active in the community and served on many boards, including those of Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Bristol Home.
In addition to his gift, Robert E. Rich Jr. is working with university officials to secure other donors to help fund the $6.5 million alumni building.
UB President William R. Greiner praised the Rich family for its long-time support of the university. “As a UB student, Bob Rich Sr. made his mark on our athletics program as captain of the football team, and founder and first coach of UB’s wrestling team. Since his graduation from UB, he has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in the frozen-food industry. He has been an outstanding community leader in Western New York, and an excellent entrepreneurial role model for today’s UB students. We are delighted that the Rich family has chosen to honor Bob and Janet through this gift, which will enhance the quality of campus life for UB students and alumni for many years to come.”
Robert E. Rich Sr., founder and chairman of the board of Rich Products Corporation, the country’s largest family-owned, frozen-food manufacturer, has earned many honors for his professional and civic leadership. Recently named one of the century’s top-10 business personalities by the Buffalo News for inventing Rich’s (non-dairy) Whip Topping and founding Rich Products, he also earned the Herbert Hoover Award from the Food Distributors International in 1997 and was inducted into the Frozen Foods Hall of Fame in 1990.
A long-time donor to UB and supporter of its athletic-scholarship programs, Robert E. Rich Sr. has served on the UB Council, as a trustee of the UB Foundation and as president of the Alumni Association. He has served as honorary chair for several university fund-raising campaigns, including the Pathways to Greatness Campaign; the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championship; and the current Campaign for UB: Generation to Generation. Inducted into the UB Athletic Hall of Fame in 1966, Rich received a SUNY honorary doctorate in law in 1987 and the university’s most prestigious award, the Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal, in 1996.