Anthony "AJ" Rich harbored a love for electronics from the time he was 10 years old and discovered radio until the day he died, just shy of his 96th birthday.
Rich, of Sugar Grove, died Dec. 12 after a lifetime of rapid technological advancements that included the advent of transistors and integrated circuits as well as shifts from radio to television to satellites.
"He was very thankful that he was able to see all of that and be involved in it, not only in business but in his personal life," said Jerry Rich, Rich's son and business partner.
AJ Rich opened an electronics shop when he was still in high school in his hometown of DePue, Ill., but he started the business he would dedicate his life to in 1952. Rich Inc., developed state-of-the-art communications systems for use in hospitals and schools. The company became a worldwide leader in information retrieval when it pioneered the integration of computer terminals on Wall Street, giving traders more information in one spot.
Jerry Rich described his father as a driven businessman who didn't retire until he was 72, never really slowing down after that. He enjoyed retirement, spending more time with electronics and software programming after years focusing almost entirely on the business. He also enjoyed boating and added golf to his list of hobbies.
"He was a perfectionist in all areas," Jerry Rich said. "Whether it be his love -- which was electronics -- or something in the home or his car or whatever."
Rich said his father always embraced the latest technologies. Early on, that meant buying the first Apple computer -- for which he had a hand in developing the Rich Operating System to use at his company -- and more recently it meant adding an iPhone and an iPad to his collection.
Rich and his family have been generous in the Sugar Grove community. The technology center at the Sugar Grove Public Library is named for Janice, Jerry's twin sister, after a donation from the family made it possible. They donated land to the St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Church in Sugar Grove where the church itself was named for AJ's wife and the chapel was named for him, after St. Anthony.
Jerry Rich said his father never saw the church, which celebrated its first mass on Thanksgiving, but his funeral service was held there Saturday.
"He touched a lot of people," he said.