Richard C. Riggs
Richard Cromwell Riggs Jr., the former owner of the Barton Cotton printing firm who led the restoration of the Maryland Club after its 1995 fire, died of Parkinson’s disease complications March 23 at his Poplar Hill home. He was days short of his 83rd birthday.
Born in Baltimore, he grew up in Catonsville and on a Baltimore County farm that is now the Caves Valley Country Club. He was the son of Richard C. Riggs Sr., who bred Hereford cattle, and his wife, Eleanor Allen Reifsnyder, a world traveler.
He attended the Calvert School and was a 1957 graduate of Gilman School. He earned an economics degree with honors from Princeton University and a master’s degree in business from Harvard University.
Mr. Riggs then was a research assistant in corporate finance at Harvard Business School and from 1966 to 1973 worked privately with business partners in venture capital.
He met his future wife, Sheila Benhan Kayser, at a Christmas party in Boston. They married in 1970.
In 1973 Mr. Riggs acquired a financially troubled printing business, Barton Cotton Inc. He expanded its scope and moved it into the direct mail and fundraising fields.
Friends said he brought a rigor and sophistication to what had been a teetering, old line business. He made it highly profitable, they said.
“If you presented Dick with a business proposition, he could get to the essence of the issue quickly. He had a wonderful business mind and was a clear thinking individual,” said Benjamin H. Griswold IV, a longtime friend. “He was a year ahead of me in school and I always looked up to him.”
Mr. Riggs later sold Barton Cotton to American Capital Strategies.
“Dick was a son of Baltimore. His family had long ties to the city and to the countryside around the city, to its history and its present,” said his wife, Sheila. “Those ties were a major part of his soul and informed any number of his activities.”
Dr. James Gieske said, “I met him in kindergarten and Dick was private and dignified then and he never changed. He was skilled at hiding his intelligence. He was an understated person and a great listener. He did a lot of charitable work in Baltimore under the radar for causes that promoted the disadvantaged in the city.”
The Maryland Club, a Mount Vernon neighborhood landmark at Charles and Eager streets, erupted in flames on a Saturday night in Aug., 1995. Mr. Riggs was its president.
Reached by phone while vacationing with his family in Colorado, he flew home and initiated plans for the restoration of the structure. He convened a meeting of the club membership at Gilman School days later and vowed the club would survive. He assured them it was fully insured.
“He was a smart, focused individual and was instrumental times 10 in making the club get open again,” said Walter Schamu, a friend and architect. “Dick had that spark in his eye. He told me he worked by listening to everyone in a room and but then made his own decision. And like a good manager, he stepped back and let people do their jobs.”
His cousin, Clinton R. Daly, said, “Dick had a beautiful mind. He looked at things differently. He was a deep thinker and you could not respond to him immediately. You had to step back and consider what he had said.”
Dr. William F. Fritz, a family friend, said, “From finance to fishing, you could count on Dick’s good advice. He was an avid sportsman who loved the Eastern Shore. His character and ethics were above reproach. His quiet, soft-spoken manner belied his leadership quality and the strong convictions he held.”
Dr. Fritz also said, “Baltimore will always be a bigger city for having Dick Riggs as a citizen.”
Remembering Richard C. Riggs
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