Levy Funeral Directors

4539 Bissonnet, Bellaire, TX


Hershel M Rich

March 1, 1925February 17, 2012

Hershel Maurice Rich passed away on February 17, 2012, thirteen days before his 87th birthday.

A native Houstonian, Hershel was born March 1, 1925 to Philip and Bertha Rich. He graduated from San Jacinto High School and Rice University with B.S. degrees in electrical and mechanical engineering; he was elected to Tau Beta Pi and Sigma Xi honorary fraternities and was named president of A.I.E.E. and Menorah Society. He served as a Supply Officer in the U.S. Navy. In 1947, he joined his father in the new Phil Rich Fan Manufacturing Co. and became company President in 1956. The company, which manufactured Windmaker Fans for commercial, institutional, and residential use, was sold to Sunbeam in 1981. He then started a software development company which developed SwifTax, SwiftLaw,‖ and SwifType.‖ He was a partner in land development companies and commercial properties and held several U.S. and foreign patents. He also served as a Director of Friedman Industries (NYSE).

Hershel was a Rice University Associate and received the Rice Alumni highest award—the Gold Award—in 2002 with his wife Hilda. They have sponsored the Rice University Leadership Program, Rice community service, scholarships, Rice Innovation Awards and Hilda Rich Circle of Giving Awards. Hershel was selected as a Distinguished Alumnus of Rice.

A founder and the first president of Houston R.E.A.D., now the Houston Center for Literacy, Hershel worked tirelessly to advance adult literacy. He promoted the use of computers and mass media to teach literacy and published a pocket Spanish-English Dictionary. He was a member of the Governor‘s Task Force on Literacy, served on the Gulf Coast Workforce Board and was awarded both the Dave White Award for service to the general community and the Houston Chronicle Savvy Award for helping make Houston a better place to live. On five occasions, five different Houston Mayors and City Councils proclaimed “Hershel Rich Day.”

Hershel was on the International Board of Governors of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology as well as Regional Chairman and a National Board Member of the American Society for Technion. He created the prestigious Hershel Rich Technion Innovation Award presented to researchers for outstanding innovative projects with commercial potential and he helped start a jobs program for students on campus. In 1995, Technion honored him with its highest honor—the Albert Einstein Award. He received an Honorary Fellowship and, in 1998, an Honorary Doctorate.

As a board member of the Downtown Optimists Club, Hershel chaired The Downtown Optimist Charity Foundation. Additionally, he served on the board of Great Southern Bank, Congregation Emanu El, Vocational Guidance Service, U.S.O., Jewish Community Center, Jewish Family Service, Jewish Federation of Houston, and Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce. He was Chairman of Houston’s United Jewish Campaign and The Jewish Agency in Israel.

Hershel looked at the world through the lens of an optimist, inventor, and problem solver. Staring out his office window and watching a new building in construction, he came up with a detailed list of ways to improve the project; the contractors included several of his ideas which saved energy and money. While reading the IRS tax code, he noted that corporations were allowed to deduct only 5% of their income tax for charitable giving; he contacted then Vice President George Bush and Congressman Bill Archer who helped get the law changed to 10%.

Hershel loved world travel, cruises, boating and fishing. He enjoyed playing friendly bridge and poker and serious discussions at MDG (Men‘s Discussion Group) lunches. For many years, he snorkeled and water skied. At 60, earned his Scuba Diving Certification. Most important to Hershel was his family. In 1947, he married his university sweetheart, Hilda Atlas. A caring father and grandfather, he taught by love and example. His life stories inspired not only his family but all who met him. At 83, not to be outdone by the grandchildren, he zip lined through the jungle of Roatan. Hershel was preceded in death by his son Morty Rich who died in 1993. Morty is memorialized by Rice University’s Morty Rich Health Center Building and by the Morty Rich Hostel in Houston, Texas. Hershel is survived his wife of 64 years, Hilda, and their two children and their families: Renie Rich Carniol and Paul Carniol, and their children Michael and Amy Carniol, Alan Carniol, and Eric Carniol; and Sharon Rich and Nancy Reed, and their children Mariah Rich and Sophie Rich. He is also survived by his special daughter Mary Klein and husband David Klein and their children Shannon and Dawson Klein; his brother and sister-in-law, Marvin and Shirley Rich; sister-in-law Thelma Atlas; and loving nieces and nephews. The funeral services will be on Sunday, February 19 at 2:45 PM in the Proler Chapel at Congregation Emanu El, 1500 Sunset Blvd., Houston, Texas 77005. After the funeral, a private graveside service will be held for the family. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to MD Anderson Hospital, Rice University, Technion University, Texas Heart Institute, or R.E.A.D./Houston Center for Literacy.


  • Funeral Service

    Sunday, February 19, 2012


Hershel M Rich

have a memory or condolence to add?

Robert Brooks

July 23, 2012

I worked for Windmaker and Mr. Rich when I was a student in Houston in the late 60's. I worked as an engineering tech/draftsman. I greatly enjoyed my time working with and for him. I just happened to Google his name and found his obituary. Robert Brooks

Gary King

March 8, 2012

Hershel was one of a kind. I have never met anyone that had such a drive for life and ideas. He never accepted the idea that anything was as good as it could be. There was always an improvement to be made. I will mis him.

Moshe Vardi

February 28, 2012

It was an honor and a privilege to have known Hershel. He was a real mentch. He was a very good friend of Rice University. To almost the very end he kept a keen interest in engineering innovation. He was also eager to see Rice University develop stronger connections with the Technion in Israel, which was another passion of his. Hershel was a fixture in Houston for so many years. Houston will not be the same without him. He will be sorely missed.

Moshe Y. Vardi (Rice University)

Herschel "Butch" Day

February 28, 2012

That Man is a Success... who has lived will, laughed often and loved much.
Who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of children;
Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
Who leaves the worlkd better than he found it, whether by and improved poppy, a perfect poem or a rescued soul;
Whe never lacked appreciation of earth's beauty or failed to express it;
Who looked for the best in others and gave the best he had.
Hershel Rich was such a success!

Carmela Ledet

February 22, 2012

Hilda my condolences to you, and your family. I was very saddened to hear about Hershel's passing. Reading all of Hershel's accomplishments spoke volume for the way he lived his life. He was a blessed man, and he blessed so many others during his life journey on this earth. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. God bless you, and I think of you often. Carmela.ledet@yahoo.com

February 22, 2012

Dear Rich family,

We have had the extreme honor of knowing all of you well. We will miss Hershel. He has always been nothing but the best to all of us. Hershel showed us a path that is certainly one to follow. Condolences to each and every one.

Harris and Kay Forbes

Johnny Molock Bridging The Digital Divide

February 21, 2012

Just learned of Mr. Rich passing. I worked with him to provide computers to those who could not afford them. He made donations and encouraged others to support our mission. When we first met ten years ago he said Johnny it does not do any good to teach kids how to use computer if they cannot read or write. We added literacy to our mission. He is missed!

February 20, 2012

My heartfelt sympathy go to the family of Mr. Rich. May you be comforted by looking forward to a time when all causes of death and the grievous pain it brings will be gone forever.

Lorena Collier

February 20, 2012

I am so sorry to learn of Mr. Rich's death. He was a warm and kind gentleman and will be missed. My deepest sympathy to Hilda and family.


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