Richard Harrison Gwinn

Richard Harrison GwinnRichard Harrison Gwinn, 77, of Philadelphia and Vero Beach, died Saturday, February 27, 2016 at the Vero Beach VNA Hospice House with his family by his side.

A handsome, humble, charming and thoughtful man, Richard had the ability to see the best in those around him. Whether it was his family, colleagues or the wonderful wide palette of friends he cherished, Richard embraced them all with the same warm spirit.

He was the loving husband to his wife Brita Patten Gwinn, devoted and supportive father to four children, Christian, Ryder, Elizabeth and David and joyous attentive grandfather to seven grand-children, Louis, Claudia, Madison, Cate, Ryder, Jr., Rowyn and Piper.

Richard, or “Dick,” Gwinn was born on July 2, 1938 to David Marshall Gwinn and Elizabeth Bechtold Gwinn in Atlanta, Georgia. He grew up in Gladwyne, Pa. with siblings John Gwinn, Nancy Huggins and Martha Gwinn. He attended The Haverford School then St. Georges School. After graduating in 1956, he entered Yale University participating in the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program until his graduation in 1960. During active service between 1960 and 1963 he served aboard the USS Douglass H. Fox and USS Leahy. His time in the Na-vy took him around the world and left him with an abiding appetite for service and lifelong love of sailing and the sea.

After attending the Wharton School he joined Pennbrook Foods in 1964 and became its CEO in 1972, acquiring Abbott’s Dairies in 1981.

He served on the Board of Governors of the Hahnemann Hospital, the ECRI Institute and many other Philadelphia boards. He offered his time, energy and experience to the Citizens Democracy Corps and USAID in Kenya and the former Soviet Republics and took real delight and sustenance from his friends at Young Presidents’ Organization, World Presidents’ Organization and his Forum group.

Dick had old-fashioned good manners, saw people as equals and had an irreverent sense of fun. He played golf and was a member at Gulph Mills Golf Club, Pine Valley Golf Club and Riomar Country Club. He loved to do “The Twist” and be-bopped with his whole being.

When he sailed, he experienced a form of grace. Captaining his boat Shadowfax, he treasured the solitude and delighted in the camaraderie of being at sea with his friends and family. When fishing with his children, or, taking long bike rides with his grandchildren he reveled in the moment.

Perhaps the greatest challenge Richard faced yielded the richest reward. The birth of his daugh-ter Elizabeth with Cystic Fibrosis was devastating to him. He hated to see anyone suffer. Richard and his wife Brita found a way to celebrate their daughter’s life, which enriched and transformed the life of their family and the countless friends, their daughter Elizabeth drew closer to the family. He worked tirelessly as a National Trustee of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to raise re-sources for a cure and provide understanding about this pernicious disease.

In his St. Georges high school yearbook his classmates wrote an appreciation of the 17-year-old Richard Gwinn that is as telling as it was enduring, “Dick will always be remembered as the one to whom anybody could talk to in confidence; he left us with the feeling that if everyone were as civil and tactful as Dick, there would be no more strife”.

He was a good man.

Any donations in his name, please consider the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Vero Beach VNA Hospice House. His memorial Service will be at St. Martins Church, 400 King of Prussia Rd, Radnor, PA, 19087, at 3:00 PM, June 23, 2016. Anyone wanting to share memories, photos or experiences please join us on Facebook.


A note from Charlie Weymouth:

In latter June, numerous classmates joined near Valley Forge, Pa. in celebration of Dick Gwinn. Recognized by classmates as being of the most handsome, he was admitted to Yale as a “regular” to the Naval Reserve Officers Training Program and strong swimmer, Dick was soon, however, to also concentrate on the extra curricula, romantic pursuit, wherever to be found, including within the preferred waters to those nearby the then Bennett College. His love of the Sea, and the girls, evolved to find ownership of not only the family milk Company, this latter delivering a product of further inducement to the ladies, but numerous ownership of food product companies,—- a few successful. The biggest find was Brita, his enduring and much loved by all wife throughout their 46 years together and with four outstanding children.