Robert Fleming Rich (1883-1968)

Robert Fleming Rich, c.1930

Robert Fleming Rich was born in Woolrich in Clinton County, Pennsylvania on June 23, 1883. His parents were Michael Bond Rich, from the famous Pennsylvania textile family, and Ida Belle Shaw. He was schooled at Mercersburg Academy and the Williamsport Commercial College before he entered Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1903 with the class of 1907. He joined Phi Kappa Psi during his freshman year and played two years on the football team, but left the College in 1906 without graduating to take up a position in the family's Woolrich Woolen Mills. Thus began a long and successful commercial career which saw him become general manager from 1930 to 1959, then president and chairman of the board of Woolrich Woolen Mills. He also engaged in other ventures in banking, manufacturing and utilities.

Rich became active in Republican politics, representing his district as a delegate to the national convention in 1924. In November 1930 he was elected to the Seventy-First Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Edgar R. Kiess. He served for the next twelve years until 1942 when he did not seek renomination, but he returned to the House of Representatives in the Seventy-ninth Congress in 1945 and served another three terms. He retired from politics in early 1951 and devoted himself from then on to his work at Woolrich.

He had married Julia Trump in June 1910 and the couple had four daughters. His first wife passed away and he married Pattie Holmes Wideman in February 1956. She survived him by two years. A Methodist, he was very active on the boards of several institutions, including his alma mater for whom he served as a trustee for almost half a century from 1912 until 1958. He received a Dickinson College honorary degree in 1941. He was also on the board of Lock Haven Teachers College for a time and of Lycoming College from 1931 to 1958, and was a director of the state Y.M.C.A.. Robert Fleming Rich died at Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania in the early evening of April 28, 1968. He is buried in the Woolrich Cemetery.

Author of Post: 
Dickinson College Archives
Date of Post: 
Alumnus/Alumna Class Year: 
Trustee - Years of Service: 
Honorary Degree - Year: