Saturday, February 22, 2003
E.W. "Rich" Richardson Among Nation's Top Ford Dealers
By Paul Logan
Journal Staff Writer
E.W. "Rich" Richardson, who went from selling used cars in Albuquerque to becoming one of the nation's top Ford dealers, died Thursday.
Richardson suffered an aortic aneurysm at his Austin, Texas, home. He was 81.
Richardson, operator of 10 dealerships in New Mexico and Texas, had lived in Albuquerque since 1946. He had, for a number of years, divided his time between both homes.
A big man at 6-foot-5 and about 215 pounds, Richardson shied away from the media spotlight, according to friends.
Bob Turner, a longtime friend and business partner, described Richardson as a person with "a good heart and a great brain."
The chief executive officer of Bob Turner's Ford Country said Richardson had the ability to figure things out in his head when others needed pencil and paper or adding machines.
Turner said Richardson taught him "how to treat people and get them to do the best that they could do for themselves."
"He helped me get into the business ... and let me become part of his business life."
In a joint statement, Bill Ford, Ford Motor Co. board chairman, and Jim O'Conner, Ford president, said the "entire automotive industry has suffered a great loss..."
"Over the years, Rich provided invaluable advice to the Ford Motor Co. and was a contributor to the development of the strong relationship between Ford and its franchise dealers. He was known and respected by dealers throughout the nation and by Ford executives."
Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said he had the privilege of knowing Richardson.
Domenici said Richardson "was very good to me... He was my finance chairman in Bernalillo County," helping Domenici make his first successful Senate run.
"The story of his life is the story of a hard-working, dedicated, very successful man who ran his business and took care of his family," he said.
Richardson was born in Kim, Colo., a tiny farming community in the southeastern part of the state.
He attended Trinidad Junior College and Denver Junior College before joining the Army Air Corps in 1942.
Richardson was only 22 when he became captain of a B-24 out of Italy making raids on central Europe and Germany.
His bomber was hit by German fire in March 1945. He waited until all his crew bailed out before he left the crippled aircraft.
When he jumped, Richardson was hit by the plane's tail. He broke his shoulder and was taken prisoner, Turner said.
After the war, Richardson decided to join a partnership in a California airport. He stopped in Albuquerque and ended up staying.
Richardson bought a small motel, operating it before opening a little used-car operation with a friend. He went on to own Renault and Volvo dealerships in the 1950s as well as Central Auto Exchange.
He bought Jones Motor Co., a Ford dealership at San Mateo and Lomas NE, in 1961. Two years later, he moved Rich Ford to its current location at Lomas and Wyoming NE.
Richardson's Ford, Mazda, and Kia dealerships in Albuquerque and Edgewood have about 300 employees.
His Texas dealerships are in San Antonio, San Marcos and Victoria. He previously owned dealerships in Phoenix and the Seattle area.
Last year, Rich Ford ranked among the top 80 Ford dealerships in the nation based on sales volumes. There are more than 5,000 Ford dealerships.
A memorial service in Albuquerque will be held in several weeks, according to the family.
Survivors include his wife, Barbara, and four children, Terry, Kim, Patty and Sandy.