Rash's Surname Index
Notes for Henry Richard Jr. DIETRICH
Chester Springs, Penn.:
H. Richard Dietrich, Jr, 69, a retired executive whose lifelong love of art and history spurred his creation of one of the most important collections of early American art, died peacefully of melanoma on August 30 at his home.
Henry Richard Dietrich, who grew up in Villanova, Penn., lived a richly varied life as a businessman, philanthropist, collector, conservationist, father and friend. While still in his early 20s, after the death of his father, Dietrich dropped out of Columbia Business School to take the helm of the family business. The company, Dietrich Corporation, owned Luden's, a cough drop and candy manufacturer, as well as other holdings, including upscale Philadelphia women's apparel store Nan Duskin and Queen Anne Candy. Dietrich served as president until the family sold Luden's to Hershey in 1986. While Dietrich loved business, his true passion was collecting and land conservation.
As a young man, Dietrich took to collecting, at first focusing on early edition books, but soon branching out. He combined a passion for American history with his love of collecting, developing a knack for reconnecting items from the past.
Dietrich was most intrigued by the Colonial American era. His first such collecting started with two pieces of export porcelain from George Washington's Order of the Cincinnati service.
The focus of all of Dietrich's collecting was The Dietrich American Foundation, established in 1963, and now based at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The foundation was set up to collect, research, document and lend historically important examples of early American decorative and fine arts. Its collections comprise furniture, silver, ceramics, porcelain, Pennsylvania German decorative arts, historical documents, manuscripts, prints and paintings.
Other fields include military and naval history, American maritime industries with an emphasis on whaling and maps, as well as depictions and writings of American Indian tribes and the exploration of the West.
Presently the collection numbers more than 2,000 objects and 1,500 books and documents, on loan to 28 different institutions — a number that varies with exhibits. Long-term loans have included ones to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as the White House and the State Department's Diplomatic Reception Rooms, the Huntington Museum in California, the Cincinnati Art Museum, Mystic Seaport and the Naval Academy Museum. Many of the foundation's objects are currently on view in the American Wing and period rooms at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Dietrich had a very close association with the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He was one of the founding members of the museum's American Art Advisory Committee in 1969, and was elected to the board of trustees the following year. In 1972, he became chairman of that committee, serving for 35 years before becoming chairman and trustee emeritus in December of 2006.
Dietrich served on numerous boards and associations, including that of Wesleyan University, where he graduated in 1960. He was also a board member of the American Museum in Britain, Rosenbach Museum and Library, US Department of State Fine Arts Committee, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. He had also served on the Friends of American Art Executive Committee at Yale University and was a member of the American Decorative Arts Committee at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was also a longtime member of the Walpole Society. He attended Episcopal Academy in Marion, Penn.
Surviving are his children, daughter Cordelia Dietrich Zanger, sons H. Richard Dietrich III and Christian B. Dietrich, and granddaughter Olivia M. Dietrich. He is also survived by his brothers, Daniel and William Dietrich.
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