Mel Richman, Graphic Arts Leader

Posted: August 23, 1988

Mel Richman, 72, a painter who combined his artistic abilities with a bent for business and became a leader in graphics and advertising, died yesterday at his Bala Cynwyd home.

Recognized nationally in graphic arts and creative marketing communications, Mr. Richman served for many years as board chairman and chief executive officer of Mel Richman Inc., the company he founded more than four decades ago.

"He was really a pioneer in the graphic arts field in the Delaware Valley," said Richard Booth, an associate of Mr. Richman's for nearly 20 years and executive vice president of finance for McAdams, Richman & Ong, the firm that succeeded Mr. Richman's.

Among Mr. Richman's achievements was the creation of a "one-stop graphic arts shopping service," Booth said.

In the 1950s, Mr. Richman "put all kinds of artists and photographers under one roof to offer services for any number of graphic art firms and advertising agencies," he said. "It was unique at that time."

Mr. Richman had started out after high school in minor league baseball as an outfielder for the Lebanon (Pa.) Nine, and it was an arm injury during his second season that brought him back to art.

He resumed his painting, became an art instructor and joined the art department of the Philadelphia Daily News. Later, he moved on to advertising and package design for a large supermarket chain.

In 1944, he went out on his own. From a tiny art and photography studio, his business within 16 years became a major advertising and marketing communications center that employed more than 100 people in office quarters off the Schuylkill Expressway at City Avenue.

He had a sizable office in New York and was handling such clients as Curtis Publishing Co., Scott Paper Co. and the Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers.

Success didn't keep Mr. Richman from helping others, said those who knew him. He made it a point to encourage young artists - help them find work, offer reviews of their portfolios.

"He felt he had the opportunity, and he wanted to give it to other people, too," said his brother-in-law, Eli Cohen.

"He had an uncanny knack for seeing people's creative ability," Booth added. "He was a businessman who had a tremendous creative flair."

Among the recognitions he received were an award for a film on the history of dentistry from the American Film Festival; several Gold Mailbox awards for direct-mail advertising; numerous top awards in package design, and several honors from the American Institute of Graphic Arts.

Mr. Richman was a trustee of the Philadelphia College of Art, which also recognized him for his achievements, and he served on the boards of the Lower Merion Scholarship Fund and the Environmental Tectonics Corp.

He was one of the founders of the Academy of Food Marketing at St. Joseph's

College, a member of the advisory committee of Community College of Philadelphia, and a president of the Poor Richard Club and the Charles Morris Price School of Advertising and Journalism.

A resident of Penn Valley for more than 20 years before moving to Bala Cynwyd about 11 years ago, Mr. Richman also was known for his interest in ceramics and had assembled one of the county's largest private collections.

He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Marian Cohen Richman; a son, Harl; and a sister, Leona Richman Cohen.

Services are at 1 p.m. tomorrow at Rosenberg's Raphael Sacks, 4720 N. Broad St. Interment follows at Mount Sharon Cemetery, Springfield, Delaware County.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Philadelphia College of Art or the Allied Jewish Appeal.

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