Bud Richter, a Fresno businessman, longtime community servant and supporter of Fresno State, passed away on Jan. 28. He was 94.
“Bud, along with Jan, will remain the model of a virtuous life, having mentored and touched so many by their love for community,” said Fresno State Interim President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval. “Bud’s vision furthered the greater good in innumerable ways, and will continue to nurture the values that distinguish us as a Valley. We are fortunate, indeed, to be part of the legacy of Bud and Jan — one that showcases the best of the human spirit.”
Elmer “Bud” Richter was a 1949 graduate of Stanford University, where he earned a degree in economics and accounting. He joined the family business, Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co., after graduation and held several positions, including general sales manager and chief executive officer. Under his leadership, the company grew to have a commanding market share in the Valley in its beverage category. The business was sold in 1977.
After growing a successful business, Dr. Richter gave both time, talent and treasure to the community that supported him. He served on the board of directors for a variety of organizations, including the Bank of Coronado, which he co-founded; Fresno Bank of Commerce, where he served as chairman of the board; Fuller Theological Seminary; and Community Hospitals of Central California.
At Fresno State, Dr. Richter served on the board of directors for The Bulldog Foundation and the California State University, Fresno Athletic Corporation, and he was instrumental in the fundraising and building of Bulldog Stadium. He served on the Fresno State Foundation Board of Governors from 1979 to 2006, when he was awarded emeritus status. Dr. Richter also served on the Business Advisory Council for the Craig School of Business.
Dr. Joseph I. Castro, former Fresno State President and now California State University Chancellor, said Dr. Richter was “a close friend whose kindness and vision made Fresno State and the surrounding community a much better place. He and his wife, Jan, inspired, through their extraordinary philanthropy, a focus on community service that is now firmly embedded into the campus’ culture.” Dr. Castro and his wife Mary, said, “Jan and the rest of the Richter family are in our prayers during this difficult time.”
The Richters received the Fresno State Foundation Award for service in 2006. Together, they served as co-chairs for Fresno State’s fîrst Comprehensive Campaign from 2006-2009, which raised over $214 million. They supported the Kremen School of Education and Human Development, where they established the Richter Awards of Excellence in Education to honor faculty and staff for their service. They were also involved in the planning of the Teachers Honor Wall that sits in front of the Education Building.
In 1998, Dr. Richter received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Fresno State and, in 2002, he received the Bulldog Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The Richters received the Arthur Safstrom Service Award in 2005, awarded by the Fresno State Alumni Association for their service to the University and alumni. Dr. Richter also received the Leon S. Peters Award in 2006, presented by the Fresno Chamber of Commerce to Valley leaders “who demonstrated in his or her personal and business lives the values, ethics and character exemplified by Mr. Peters.”
In 2007, Dr. and Mrs. Richter donated $3.5 million to the University to establish the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning at Fresno State. The Richters based their generous donation on the belief that the center will, in Bud Richter’s words, “instill in students a lifelong character trait of giving to the community.” Their donation was also tied to a Christian principle that they lived their lives by, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Thanks in large part to their visionary gift, every year over the last 11 years, Fresno State students, faculty and staff have provided more than 1 million hours of service to the community through the Richter Center.
President Emeritus John D. Welty, who worked closely with the Richters to establish the Richter Center, said: “Bud Richter was one of those special people who had a heart of gold, a deep sense of spirituality and cared deeply for people. He made an imprint on thousands of people. He loved Fresno State and gave countless hours to the University in addition to financial support. The Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement will forever be a reminder of his commitment to service to improve his community.”
Chris Fiorentino, director of the Richter Center at Fresno State, said, “Bud was a man of deep faith. Whether it was through small acts of kindness, the way he lived out his marriage to Jan for 72 years, or large acts of philanthropy and stewardship, like endowing the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning, I know it was Bud’s wish that others experience the joy and benefits of giving of their time, talent and treasure. He will be greatly missed, but his values will live on and be a part of Fresno State for decades to come.”
Dr. Richter is survived by his wife, Jan; son, Brad; granddaughter, Renee Vandermeer and her husband, Nick; two great-grandchildren, Matthew and Maci; and his brother, King.
Services are pending. Interim President Jiménez-Sandoval has ordered that Fresno State flags be posted at half-staff on a future date in honor of Dr. Richter.