Inducted: October 26, 1994
Joe Richer has used his natural aptitudes and education in finance and farming to help promote the sale of Kent County and Ontario farm products around the world.
As grain trader and accountant, and later as Vice-President Finance with King Grain Limited, he worked to develop markets for special quality soybeans in the Pacific Rim Countries. He recognized, early, the potential soybean market in the Far East, where they are used in such basic foods as tofu as a cheap source of protein.
Mr. Richer was born at Plantagenet, near Ottawa, and received his early education there. He had his first exposure to Kent County farms when he came as a student, to detassel corn on the King and Edgar Martin farms.
After he graduated in Business Administration from the University of Ottawa, Mr. Richer returned to Kent, first to work for the T. H. Taylor Company, and later for King Grain Limited. Mr. Richer made his first trip overseas with Napoleon "Nap" King, as the company reached out for new marketing opportunities. Subsequent trips abroad were jointly sponsored by King Grain and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, as they shared the quest for new outlets in the Far East and in Europe.
An associate from that period said that Mr. Richer's "positive and optimistic" attitude made him an ideal emissary abroad. He was, as this associate explained, "an idea person" and "a born leader."
"An attractive personality," and a desire to serve involved him in a variety of agricultural and community interests. Mr. Richer worked with Secretary-Manager Otis McGregor and the Ontario Soya-Bean Growers' Marketing Board in their common search for buyers. In cooperation with the Ridgetown College of Agricultural Technology, he developed a course in Grain Elevator Operation.
Mr. Richer was also a member of the Ontario Grain Corn Council, looking for international markets for commercial grain corn. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Ontario Grain and Feed Dealers Association for 13 years, and its President in 1981.
Mr. Richer has also been deeply involved in church, community and professional organizations. He has been active in the Pain Court Immaculate Conception Church, and a member of the Finance Committee of the Diocese of London. He has also been a member of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, and of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario.
Mr. Richer was Chairman of the Rural-Urban Committee of the Chatham Chamber of Commerce from 1962-1964; and a member of the Advisory Committee of the Thames Campus of St. Clair College from 1976-1979.
He has been a member of the Board of Chatham's St. Joseph's Hospital since 1984; and a Director of the Ontario Hospital Association since 1986.
Mr. Richer was chosen as the Chatham and District Chamber of Commerce Agriculturalist of the year in 1991.
Following the death of his first wife, Mr. Richer married Margaret Sherwood Caron, a widow; the union bringing together a family of 20 children.
A long-term friend said that Mr. Richer is a person "who likes to get things done, and to do them well. Every committee, every organization, every business needs someone like Joe Richer!"