Betsy Rich of Salisbury is paying tribute to the kind, loving and resilient spirits of her late husband and son through a new scholarship she has established at Catawba College.
The Maynard L. and Paul L. Rich First Family Scholarship will be awarded to a student who demonstrates financial need, who feels called to the helping professions (education, psychology, religion/philosophy and pre-med), and who demonstrates a caring spirit and a sense of high moral values.
Betsy Rich's late husband, retired Catawba College Psychology Professor Dr. Maynard L. "Frosty" Rich, died Jan. 8, 2006. Her son, Paul L. Rich, a 1979 alumnus of Catawba who earned a degree in computer science, died in 1986.
Dr. Rich would have celebrated his 78th birthday on April 8 of this year and his widow will mark that occasion with fond memories of their 53 years together.
Betsy Rich says her late husband and son shared a strong resiliency which allowed them to overcome misfortune in their lives. Both men were kind and nurturing, and aware of the difference they could make in the lives of others.
Remembering "Frosty" Rich
In a 2006 All Saints Day written remembrance, Betsy Rich relates her husband's early years:
Maynard Leslie Rich was born on April 8, 1929 to Oscar and Rosa Kalfise Rich in the small subsistence farming community of Donovan, Illinois. He called himself an afterthought since his three siblings were 13-15 years older. We knew him as Frosty, a name given him by his high school basketball coach after the country doctor wrapped his frostbitten ears in white flannel (he had run miles through a snowstorm to play in a basketball tournament).
Frosty overcame great odds. His mother died when he was 1 ½; his father when he was 11. By the time he was four, his sisters had left home, and his brother was in a German prison camp. He survived by hiring himself out to various farm families who gave him room and board for doing milking, plowing, etc. All his elementary years were at a one-room schoolhouse where never more than thirteen were enrolled; from age seven on, he took responsibility for hauling the wood and firing up the pot-bellied stove at 6:00 a.m. each day.
Betsy Rich says her husband always felt as if a hand was on his shoulder, guiding him through life. His high school English teacher in Morocco, Indiana encouraged him to enroll in college, advising: 'Just go down to Terre Haute, knock on the president's door, tell him you have no money but want to go to college.' The advice worked and Dr. Rich graduated from Indiana State with bachelor's degree in 1951, having lettered in both basketball and football. A year later, he earned his master's degree in guidance.
It was during his college years and through his involvement with Wesley Foundation that Dr. Rich tried to reach a greater understanding of the hand he felt on his shoulder. It guided him through seminary at Drew University in Madison, N.J. and into his ordination into the Methodist ministry in 1954.
Dr. Rich met coed Betsy Heller at Drew University where they were married in 1953.
His first professional position was as director of the Wesley Foundation and professor of religion at Southwest Texas State in San Marcos, Texas. He developed it into the Campus Christian Community, one of the first ecumenical outreaches on a college campus (involving Presbyterian, Episcopal, Church of Christ and Methodist churches).
Between 1963 and 1969, Dr. Rich returned to Drew to pursue Ph.D. studies. While there, he taught psychology at Montclair State College, Upper Montclair, N.J. and assisted the college in developing a department of religion.
He came to Catawba in 1969 as chair of psychology and director of the Counseling Center, positions he held until 1977 when he became professor of psychology and director of the Biofeedback Center at Catawba, posts he held until his retirement in 1998. During his early years in Salisbury, he helped to develop Dial Help, a telephone outreach which directed callers to assistance for a variety of problems.
He also served as visiting professor of pastoral psychology at Hood Theological Seminary and was director of the clinical pastoral education program for seminary at the V.A. Medical Center from 1969-1986.
His career in higher education spanned 45 years, but he also had an active private practice as a marriage and family therapist (the Center for Creative Living). Indiana State University awarded him the Distinguished Alumni Award for academic and clinical achievements for his creative service to the United Methodist Church and contributions to the enrichment of family life. The N.C. Association for Marriage and Family Therapy awarded him the Mace Award, its highest recognition for professional contributions to marriage and family life. He had served as vice-chair of the N.C. Board of Licensure for Marriage and Family Therapists and as president of the Association of Marriage Family Therapy Regulator Boards serving the USA.
A Rotarian since 1956, Dr. Rich joined the Salisbury Rotary Club in 1970. He had served as committee chair, director, bulletin editor, then as the local club president between 1995 and 1996. He was a group leader for District 7680's Group Study Exchange with the Netherlands. He became a Rotary District Governor 1998-1999 and served as a delegate to the Rotary International Convention in Calgary and in Singapore. He was a Paul Harris Fellow.
Dr. Rich maintained his connection to the Southwest Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church, but was active in First United Methodist Church in Salisbury, often in a teaching capacity.
Dr. Rich was honored posthumously with the 2006 N.C. Association for Marriage and Family Therapy's Pioneer Award for the many contributions he made to the development and expansion of marriage and family therapy in N.C.
A Son, a Kindred Spirit, Paul
Betsy Rich will tell you that her son Paul's life was full and meaningful, although it was not long-lived.
Paul Leslie Rich was a fraternal twin, born with brother Stevan Lee to Betsy and Dr. Rich in 1957. Their birth followed sister Nancy Lee (now Easterling) who was born in 1954.
Paul was different from his brother in that he was short, blond and outgoing, while Steven was tall, dark and quiet. The brothers were close during their childhood and young adult years.
Paul also was different in that he was a 'brittle diabetic,' diagnosed at age five. Hospitals, insulin shots, and doctor visits were an integral part of his life at a young age and those medical interludes continued throughout his life with greater frequency.
He struggled with his diabetes during junior high years at Knox Middle School and at Salisbury High School. At Catawba, he remained actively engaged in student life, in the campus religious organization, as an Alpha to freshmen, and served as SGA treasurer between 1977 and 1978. In spite of amputations, a heart attack and going to Duke three days a week for dialysis during his senior year, he was able to complete all of his academic work prior to undergoing a kidney transplant two months before graduation.
"At that time," Betsy recalled, "they gave him seven more years to live thanks to my kidney. This was one of the first diabetic kidney transplants that had been done at Duke and doctors were pleased by Paul's determined and optimistic spirit and his speedy recovery.
"Then every year on the date of transplant, we celebrated our anniversary. We ate at the tavern in Old Salem and there was always a rose on the table for me."
Paul completed his degree in computer science at Catawba and took a job as a systems analyst at Wachovia in Winston-Salem. He was active in Burkhead United Methodist Church there, serving on the church council and as a youth advisor. "He tried to remain active in spite of everything," Betsy remembers, "but he was on disability the last year of his life.
"He loved the world. He loved people and he was generous with his time."
While Paul's parents were in England, they received a phone call regarding his death.
Remembering and Honoring
For Betsy Rich, the scholarship she has established will be a tangible reminder for all of those who follow Dr. Maynard Rich and son Paul to the campus of Catawba College. In setting the scholarship criteria, she tried to capture the spirits of both of the men who lived so fully and so lovingly, and who are now missing from her life. The scholarship, for her, is a way to assure that a difference will be made in a future student's life.