Bartlett Richards III (“Bart”), 83, of Boca Grande, Florida, and Northfield, Illinois, died peacefully surrounded by his family on April 23, 2022.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, on January 1, 1939, Bart spent the first seven years of his life in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood with his parents Beatrice Norton Richards and Bartlett Richards Jr. and his younger brother Norton Richards, who all preceded him in death. At the end of World War II, Bart’s family moved to Hinsdale, Illinois, where Bart spent his teenage years. In high school, Bart loved chemistry, collecting snakes, and excelling at baseball. His final high school year was spent at The Kiski School north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Bart went on to graduate from Bucknell University’s College of Engineering in 1962. Bart always wanted things done exactly right and this was for sure rooted in his lifelong passion for mechanical engineering. At Bucknell, he continued his baseball career and played in the minor leagues for the Detroit Tigers. Unfortunately, his career ended when he shattered his leg sliding into third base. His love of baseball was a frequent topic around the kitchen table, especially with his grandchildren, and he was so happy to enjoy the Cubs epic run in 2016 with his family.
After graduating from Bucknell, Bart began his career working for Lukens Steel Company in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, which remains the oldest steel mill in commission in the United States. Family and friends frequently enjoyed his “colorful” stories from his formative experiences at Lukens.
In the mid-1960s, Bart moved to Evanston, Illinois to work for Arens Controls Inc., where he started as Vice President of Sales. It was during that time on a blind date waterskiing on Lake Michigan that Bart met the only woman he ever loved, Doris Tips, and they married in 1966. In 1969, Bart and Doris moved to Northfield, Illinois, to raise their two children — Christopher and Elizabeth.
In 1978, Bart became Chairman of the Board of Arens Controls. During his almost 20-year tenure, Arens developed into a world leader in manufacturing by-wire electronic transmission and drivetrain control components and vehicle power management systems for customers like Allison, General Motors (GM) and the U.S. Department of Defense. Recognizing Bart’s drive for perfection, Arens was awarded GM Supplier of the Year. In 1995, Bart retired from Arens Controls.
Throughout his life, Bart was an avid hunter and sportsman. Thanks to Doris, Bart quickly picked up both tennis and golf as a young adult. Bart became a classic fixture around the tennis courts of Sunset Ridge Country Club and Boca Bay Pass Club. He also loved to talk politics and business, which would usually end with one of Bart’s infamous lectures. He enjoyed trading options and was a founder of First Bank and Trust of Evanston (now part of Byline Bank). Bart gave back to his community serving as a Trustee for both the Village of Northfield and the Music Institute of Chicago, as well as helping lead numerous charitable initiatives for Chautauqua Institution, Music Institute of Chicago and Norton Museum of Art. He loved spending his summers boating with his family and friends at their summer home in Chautauqua, New York, where his family has been going since the late 1800s, and enjoying summer opera at Norton Hall, which was named in honor of his great-grandfather.
Bart was devoted to his family. He will be greatly missed by his wife of almost 56 years, Doris, his children Christopher (Alison) Richards and Elizabeth (Robert) Hayward, and his six grandchildren who all called him “Papa”: Trevor, Charlie and Griffin Hayward and Grant, Ben and Lydia Richards. He had many close friends in Northfield, Chicago, Chautauqua and Boca Grande. All will miss his humor, witty anecdotes, endless lectures and genuine friendship. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in Bart’s honor to the Chautauqua Fund at giving.chq.org.
Arrangements entrusted to Chicagoland Cremation Options of Schiller Park, Illinois.