Glenn Richter was a satirist who never shied away from a controversy, even audaciously suggesting once that Meriden’s Daffodil Festival be moved to June and renamed the Reigning Cats and Dogs Festival.
Richter’s acerbic wit and keen eye took on local politics, the obsolescence of Latin and the absurdity of the IRS. He also documented his experiences growing up during the Cold War in his award-winning Sunday columns in the Record-Journal.
Richter, 72, died last week at MidState Medical Center from COVID-19 while battling cancer, his family said.
Since his death, there have been many online tributes to Richter. Close friends and co-workers recalled his humor, thoughtfulness and intelligence. His brother William Richter described him as “mischievous with a twinkle.”
“He had a deep sense of responsibility,” he said. “He was anxious to be at work trying to advance the interests of the newspaper...He appreciated people. Even as a child, he observed more and remembered more than anybody I know. “
Richter enjoyed mechanical engineering and had proven himself a gifted writer at an early age, said longtime friend Pam Michael. He studied architecture at Cooper Union in New York before moving to Berkley, California, and Georgia, where he drove a delivery truck. He returned to Connecticut and joined the Record-Journal staff in the mid 1980s.
Richter made friends easily at home and on his travels to Russia, even reaching out to people in Meriden, England, who later came to the city for a tour.
At the Record-Journal he worked on the copy desk and the Sunday newspaper. After he retired from full time work he joined the editorial page staff, but the public knew him best for his weekly column on the cover of Sunday’s Perspective section.
“Glenn's colleagues enjoyed his unique, subtle, acerbic sense of humor,” said Record-Journal Editor Ralph Tomaselli, who started at the newspaper around the same time as Richter. “Although he had health problems the past couple of years, he never lost his love for journalism and loved contributing to the RJ with his column, editorials, and other work for the editorial page. He was part of the fabric of the newsroom for 35 years and will be missed as a colleague and as a friend.”
"He was part of the fabric of the newsroom for 35 years and will be missed as a colleague and as a friend."
Tomaselli recalled Richter’s love for history, especially the early Cold War era he grew up in and readers appreciated his columns about life in the 50s and 60s. Although a conservative, Richter wasn’t afraid to break with party politics if he felt it was warranted.
“He was a conservative who immediately felt President Trump did not fit into his definition of a conservative or a Republican,” Tomaselli said. “I admired that he was not afraid to harshly criticize a Republican president.”
Editorial page editor Jeffery Kurz praised Richter’s intelligence and talent.
“I loved working with Glenn,” Kurz said. “I admired his writing and his sense of humor and relied on his considerable skills as an editor. He was also a great person, gently witty and always ready to help. It was bolstering to know that I had one of the smartest people around working at my side.”
Former Record-Journal Executive Editor James H. Smith promoted Richter from copy editor to assistant managing editor in 1992 and for years the two baby boomers faced off against each other in columns on the Perspective page, Richter on the right, and Smith on the left. Despite their weekly ideological battles in print, the two men swapped childhood tales, and became close friends.
“Connecticut has lost its most erudite newspaper columnist,” stated Smith and his wife Jacqueline R. Smith, a former editor at the Record-Journal. “Glenn Richter was quite simply the best. He also was the best word editor we ever worked with and a magnificent human being.”Quiet charm
Richter was a New Britain native, son of the late George and Angeline Richter. He graduated from Berlin High School in 1966 and attended Cooper Union and Central Connecticut State University. In addition to his brother William Richter, he leaves his sister Kathleen Misterka and several nieces and nephews.
Richter’s columns were perennial award winners for humor and thoughtfulness. In one he took the IRS to task for its thousands of forms, writing April was the cruelest month “not because of the weather but because Uncle Sam wants his money, on the 15th, or else, and if you haven't started working on your taxes yet, you could wind up in a Waste Land of hurt."
He also began one column praising the glittering and philanthropic Dolly Parton by informing readers he once spent a night in a Tennessee hotel near Dollywood.
Record-Journal copy desk in 1992.
A recent Memorial Day tribute began with a young Richter building a radio with “glowing tubes” and listening to reports about the sinking of the USS Thresher submarine.
“Lying there in the dark, I took in the full horror of what was happening — my imagination filling the darkness of the deep with more fear and foreboding than any endless loop of file footage or any flashy display of TV graphics could have supplied,” he wrote. “Having seen ‘Run Silent, Run Deep’ and other movies about the Silent Service must have filled in plenty of blanks. Complicating matters was the fact that this was the height of the Cold War and the Thresher was probably our most advanced sub. Very hush-hush.”
"He wasn’t partisan. He loved everybody. His imperfection was perfect."
Richter would often view downtown from his perch outside the employee entrance at 11 Crown St., where he held court with other smokers and non-smokers.
Michael recalled Richter recently confessed that as a child, he had carved his brother’s initials into the family’s wooden television cabinet. When William Richter pleaded his innocence, their father demanded to know “who would carve someone else’s initials into a cabinet?”
Glenn Richter had a quiet charm that drew people in William Richter said, and recalled that he never had a girlfriend who didn’t like his brother more.
“He had a way of connecting with people, a drive in him,” William Richter said. “He didn’t always do it verbally. He wasn’t partisan. He loved everybody. His imperfection was perfect.”