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Richard Udell ’55

May 17, 2021, in New York City.

Richard grew up in a wealthy New York family. His grandfather had founded Max Udell Sons & Co., one of the largest manufacturers of men’s clothing in the world. “My father was wealthy, my mother was beautiful, and that’s a combination that often goes together,” Rich said. He loved playing basketball and handball, and attended progressive private schools, including the City and Country School and Elisabeth Irwin.

While considering which college to go to, Rich wrote to the U.S. Department of Education and asked for a list of intellectual schools far from New York City. The list he got back included Reed, and he sent a letter to the college asking for more information. He received an admissions piece called “I Choose Reed,” written by Reed students, and liked what he saw. “It seemed like it was the perfect place for me,” he said. “It was just like the high school I was going to, intellectual, liberal, and progressive in its outlook. It also seemed to be highly student oriented. In other words, students had a lot to do with what happened.”

Philosophy classes with philosophy professors Stanley Moore [1948–54] and Marvin Levich [1953–94] honed his ability to analyze and understand arguments. “They directly affected my legal career by enhancing my ability to analyze arguments, identify assumptions, etc.,” Rich said. He also gained a lifelong interest in English history after studying with Prof. Richard Jones [history 1941–86].

“Jones was a wonderful teacher,” Rich remembered. “He would have us read various historical accounts of the same thing and analyze why they were different and what their sources were.”

At Reed, Rich was an avid biker, played on the intramural basketball team, and wrote for the Quest, including a sports column and a weekly column about the student council. He loved to sing, and one of his most memorable experiences was performing in the campus production of The Pirates of Penzance. The other was meeting Rita Hartshorne ’54, whom he married after graduation. He wrote his thesis, “Edward Hyde and Reform,” advised by Profs. Walter Weir [philosophy 1952–56] and Richard Jones [history 1941–86].

Richard went on to law school at the University of Pennsylvania and worked as chief counsel for various record companies, publishers, and conglomerates, including Gulf + Western (Simon & Schuster), Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, and the McGraw-Hill Educational Publishing Group.

Rich is survived by his sons, Benjamin and Edward. Rita died shortly before him; they were both faithful supporters of Reed.

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2021

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