George and Ann Richards
In 2002, George and Ann Richards made a spectacular contribution not only to Penn State and the Civil War Era Center, but also to Civil War scholarship itself. Their gift of $3 million provided the Center with a permanent source of income that will help fund graduate and faculty research, as well as outreach programs that will influence students and educators around the country. Because of the magnitude of the Richards' gift, the University elected to name the Center in their honor. Though "George and Ann Richards" adorns every publication produced by the Center, the real George and Ann Richards are very down-to-earth people who share a dedication to education and philanthropy.
George Richards is a 1954 graduate of Penn State with a major in Commerce. He served in the U.S. Army before attending Harvard Business School. Ann Richards grew up in Manhasset on Long Island and attended Colby College in Maine, where she was a member of Sigma Kappa sorority and Cap and Gown. After graduation in 1956, she was employed as a dress buyer for Filene's in Boston.
Mr. Richards eventually became the owner and CEO of Vitex Packaging, a manufacturer of materials for the tea industry. His company had several plants in the United States and penetrated the Asian markets which help make tea the world's most popular beverage. He sold Vitex in 1998 but remains involved with the company. More recently, Mr. Richards has joined the Board of Directors of Stoffel Seals Corp.
Philanthropy has long been important to George and Ann Richards. In 1994, they endowed the Bart Richards Award in Media Criticism in the Penn State College of Communications to honor Mr. Richards' father. The Richards' gift to the Civil War Era Center stems from a commitment to liberal arts education and from Mr. Richards' family history. Both of his great-grandfathers served in the Union Army during the Civil War, one in the California Volunteer Infantry and the other in the First Missouri Light Artillery.