John Floyd Richard, 81, died suddenly and peacefully on July 8th, 2023 at Bridges in Norwalk where he had been under care for Parkinson’s Disease and dementia for the past year. Fittingly, he was watching The History Channel.
John is survived by his wife of 31 years Susan Strecker Richard, by his sister Anne Perlin and her husband Sanford (Sandy) Perlin, his nephew Rob Loud and his daughters Taylor and Dlllon, nephew Brooks Perlin and his wife Marion Leydier and their children Alix, Louise and Theo, and niece Alexandra Perlin and her daughter Mackenzie. Susan’s three sisters and their families also considered John an important part of their lives.
For John, every aspect of his life was an adventure. An excellent athlete, he was a champion speed skater in grade school, a swimmer, downhill and cross-country skier, kayaker and tennis player.
For years, he sailed his Soling, named Isis, in Long Island Sound (and was quickly dubbed “Captain Sandbar” by his wife after an unfortunate momentary disregard for charts and tide tables on one of their first sails together), and until five years ago, John was windsurfing off Compo Beach, albeit with a couple of Coast Guard rescues. Most important to John was rowing, at Pomfret and then at Harvard where he and several crew mates became life-long friends.
His interests were varied and his work-life was one of fulfillment and interesting paths. After attending Harvard College where he majored in Political Science and graduated cum laude in 1963, he earned a Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in 1966. For a year after graduation from Harvard, John did research on the economic impact of the Latin American Free Trade Area for the U.N. Commission for Latin America in Chile.
In other summer programs while working on his degrees, he had jobs in Rio, Paris, and Buenos Aires. From 1967-1971, as part of the U.S. Department of State, after starting as a provincial advisor in Saigon, John became Aide to the Deputy Ambassador during the height of the Viet Nam war. These experiences, while feeding his passion for history and politics, also led to a fair fluency in French, Spanish, Portuguese and Vietnamese.
After resigning from the State Department, he began a career in finance, working at Chase Manhattan Bank in New York and London, Wells Fargo Bank in New York and for ten years was Vice President at Irving Trust Company until it was taken over by Bank of New York. Several entrepreneurial ventures followed after he first took an extended trip to China.
In 1992, John served as the Executive Director of Operation Sail, the New York City July 4th parade of some 34 tall ships and hundreds of smaller vessels from all over the world, including replicas of the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. John and Susan had just married on June 6th but, due to the many last-minute details of OP Sail, they shortened their honeymoon in Spain and Portugal by a few days so John could “return to the helm.” But the travel adventures for them never stopped over the many years of their marriage.
John learned to play the guitar under the stars in Wyoming, where he and a group of high school friends ended up entertaining at a dude ranch for a summer. He played and sang with The Steeple People at Norfield Congregational Church (Weston) for several years and turned many a family gathering into a hootenanny, sometimes playing songs he wrote.
A published author, in Commonweal, The Nation, The Weston Voice and The New York Times, John had been working on a book about American Exceptionalism over the past several years.
Always reading, always intellectually curious, he was a man of strong opinions tempered by a willingness to listen to others. Young nieces, nephews and cousins remember John’s openness to their ideas during many respectful conversations.
By nature, John was unassuming and an appreciator of all the good people and opportunities that graced his life. He revered his small classes and excellent teachers at Pomfret and although much of his life was spent in New York City and Weston, CT, he considered himself a proud product of the Midwest, where his younger years in St. Louis gave him his grounding and core values.
His opinions on things more mundane led to a short list of John’s Richard’s Rules of Order: Never order pizza without anchovies; Always have your steak rare, preferably topped with Bernaise sauce; Eat your salad after the main course, and take your espresso after dessert; Invest wisely and don’t trust anyone; Go to the beach only at high tide; Always make time to watch fireflies and shooting stars; and, When you hear that old-time rock ‘n roll, you must, you must, get up and dance.
The will be no public memorial celebration, per John’s wishes. Contributions in his honor may be given to The Kiwanis Club of Weston where John found wonderful friendships and community service opportunities over many years, or to the Weston Senior Center where John enjoyed (unless he lost) countless Backgammon games and tournaments. Or you can simply raise a mug of Sam Adams or a glass of bubbly to honor one of the good guys, the tall one with the great laugh, who has passed through this world.