Richard T. “Dick” Farmer, 86, founder of Cintas Corporation, business leader, and philanthropist, died peacefully on August 4, 2021, surrounded by his loving family.
Dick was born on November 22, 1934. He married the love of his life, Joyce Barnes, shortly after she graduated from Miami University in December of 1956. After being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 1957, Dick joined the family business as a sales representative, working his way up to president of the company, while expanding product offerings to include uniform rental. In 1968, Dick left the family business to test a new concept that involved unique fabrics and processing systems, which ultimately revolutionized the entire industry. Within two years, Dick’s new company, Satellite Corporation, was so successful that it acquired the original family business. By the mid-1970s, Satellite had become Cintas Corporation. Dick took Cintas public in 1983 and led it as Chairman and CEO until 1995, surpassing $1 billion in sales for the first time. He remained as Chairman for the next 14 years, and in 2009, was elected Chairman Emeritus.
A recognized business leader, Dick received numerous awards. Highlights include his induction into the Greater Cincinnati Business Hall of Fame in 1996. In 1995, Dick was honored as Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2010, Dick was honored by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber as one of the Great Living Cincinnatians. That same year, he was honored as a Distinguished Veteran by the USO.
Dick was always involved in improving the communities in which he and Joyce lived. Dear to his heart was the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida, where he served as Club Chairman. Because of the indelible mark he left on the club, he was inducted into the Ocean Reef Hall of Fame in 2018.
Similar to defining Cintas’ company culture, Dick and Joyce deliberately developed a family mission to transfer to succeeding generations the values and beliefs that had helped them prosper, including concern for the welfare of each family member and those less fortunate, a belief in the value of hard work, a commitment to honesty and integrity and a commitment to making their community and country a better place to live. To further these values, in 1988, Dick and Joyce, along with their children, established the Farmer Family Foundation. Since 2006, the Foundation has prioritized support for veterans, investments in education for at-risk populations, and programs that promote economic self-sufficiency and healthcare research.
Dick, Joyce, and the Foundation were early supporters of veterans’ causes. Dick served on the board of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. The Foundation assisted with the construction of medical centers across the United States to treat injured military members with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries. Dick’s passion for veterans led the Foundation to establish and fund the Cincinnati VA Guest House as well as the donation of a VA Mobile Health Unit to provide healthcare outreach to veterans in remote areas of the community.
The Foundation has been a donor to the Catholic Inner-City School Education Fund since 1989. This commitment to ensuring at-risk students are receiving quality education led to the creation of Accelerate Great Schools, which provides funding to recruit, launch, create and/or replicate great kindergarten through 12th-grade schools in Cincinnati.
Dick, Joyce, and their family have a deep love and appreciation for their alma mater, Miami University. In 1992, the Farmers provided the cornerstone gift to Miami’s business school, leading to the creation of the Farmer School of Business. Subsequently, in 2005, a major gift of $25 million to the university helped finance the construction of new business school facilities. In 2016, the Foundation provided an additional $40 million, the largest gift in the school’s history, toward a campaign to ensure the school remains a top-tier, distinguished business school. The Farmer School of Business has earned high accolades, consistently ranking among the best undergraduate business schools in the country.
Dick and the Foundation have provided help and support to many organizations in his beloved hometown of Cincinnati and later to his community at the Ocean Reef Club. In response to a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, Dick and the Foundation have made significant investments in research to hasten progress in the search for a cure and better care for all Parkinson’s patients.
Dick was the happiest hunting, fishing, and golfing with his close friends and family. He and Joyce traveled the world over the years on many incredible adventures. He loved spending time with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He was an incredible man who made a lasting impact on numerous people’s lives and careers. He was a compassionate gentleman, larger than life but always approachable for guidance, a chat, or sharing a good joke. Those who knew him best knew he was just a “regular guy.”
Dick is survived by his loving wife of 64 years, Joyce, his three children and their spouses, Brynne and Bob Coletti, Scott and Mary Farmer, and Amy and George Joseph, as well as grandchildren Kendell (Andrew) Mountain, Trent, Colin, and Quentin Coletti, Kailey Farmer, Sari (Alex) Diamond, and Zachary Farmer, Chase, Brennan (Bree) Joseph, and Claire Joseph, and great-grandchildren, William, Annabelle, and Mary Arden Mountain, and Beaudry and Scotlyn Diamond. Dick is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews. Dick was predeceased by his sister, Joan Gardner, and brother-in-law, Jim Gardner.
The family wishes to extend its heartfelt thanks to the wonderful and caring people who helped make Dick’s last several months comfortable. They are all remarkable people.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on August 17, 2021, at 10:00, am at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains, located at 325 W 8th St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. The Mass will adhere to COVID protocols as defined by the Cathedral, City of Cincinnati, and the State of Ohio. Masks will be available for attendees at each entrance to the Cathedral and will either be optional or mandatory depending on guidance at the date of the Mass.