Raymond A. Rich: From the Engine Room to the Board Room
Ray Rich was CEO and chair of a number of companies including U.S. Filter Corp.
Raymond A. Rich was born in Los Angeles, Calif., in 1912, the son of Arthur and Lucy Baker Rich. Raised in Des Moines, Iowa, he started his career at age 18 by hiring on with a tramp freighter for a job in the engine room. After receiving a double engineering degree from Iowa State University, he was hired in the midst of the Great Depression by General Electric Co. and became its youngest national sales manager. He was awarded the company’s rare “E Award” for overseeing GE’s multiple war-production plants.
He then was asked to lead the federal Northeast District for the Council for Economic Development. He volunteered for active duty in World War II in the Navy and Marines, serving in the South Pacific and in Tokyo after the Japanese surrender. He received numerous decorations for his service.
Ray Rich volunteered for active duty during World War II in the Navy and Marines
After the war, he became vice president and director of Philco Corp. and then accepted the presidency and directorship of Avco Corp. He went on to hold simultaneous CEO and chairman positions in a number of companies. The sectors ranged from oil and gas exploration and production to publishing, banking, and environmental engineering. As chairman and CEO of U.S. Filter Corp., he led the company to play a significant role in its field, increasing its revenues twentyfold in the 1970s.
Ray Rich and his longtime companion, Claire Carlson
After retiring from active corporate life, he focused on acquiring a range of real estate properties. In addition to his primary residence in Boca Grande, Fla., and his estate in Esopus, N.Y., he owned, at various times, cattle ranches in Arizona and Oklahoma, corn and soybean farms in Iowa, townhouses in New York City, homes in Maine, a castle in the Scottish Highlands, a 12th-century castle in Austria, and a chateau in France. Rich was a member of the University Club for more than 60 years and the Union Club, both in New York City, as well as the Boca Grande Club and Gasparilla Inn & Club in Florida.