Joseph Rufus Rich, Jr. “Joe” passed away peacefully on December 19th, 2021, with his family by his side, after a three-week battle with Covid-19.
He was born in Fort Perry, Kentucky, the only child to Joseph Rufus Rich Sr. and Eva Francis Rich who, at the time of his birth, owned Rich’s Restaurant on West Pike Street in Covington, KY. After graduating from Holmes High School in 1950, Joe enlisted in the U.S. Navy to serve during the Korean War. During his enlistment, Joe was stationed, among other places, at Boca Chica Naval Air Station in Key West, FL, where he manned a Crash Boat to rescue and/or retrieve the bodies of downed navy pilots training off the coast.
During his service, Joe became engaged to Mary Cathryn (Mary Cay) Richmond, of Crescent Springs, KY, in December of 1953. Joe and Mary Cay had known each other since childhood, as their parents were close friends. After being honorably discharged from the Navy in 1955, Joe enrolled at the University of Kentucky in the Fall of 1955. He and Mary Cay were married on September 1st of 1956 and lived together on campus while Joe completed his degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Upon graduation, in June of 1959, Joe joined General Electric’s Management Training Program and worked in the company’s Lighting Division for thirteen years moving from Cincinnati to Philadelphia, then to Cleveland, and finally to Indianapolis. In 1972, Joe decided to leave GE and become a manufacturers sales representative for industrial electrical products. This career eventually took him to Evansville, IN, and then to Louisville, KY, where he and Mary Cay eventually retired close to family.
Singing was Joe’s hobby and passion. Joe was a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society for over fifty years. As a gifted baritone, Joe was also a member of several barbershop quartets over the decades, traveling to shows and competitions. For over twenty years, Joe was an active member of Louisville’s Barbershop Chorus, The Thoroughbreds, where he performed and formed numerous friendships. In addition to singing barbershop, Joe was a lifelong member of his church choir. He sang alongside his wife Mary Cay at every church they belonged to, on nearly every Sunday of his adult life.
He is survived by his loving wife of over 65 years, Mary Cay Rich; children, Mark J. Rich (Ann), Tracey A. Payling (Stephen), Dwight W. Rich (Brittany); grandchildren, Sarah Fox (Jared), Emily Sutherland (Jimmy), Erin Hughes, Benjamin Rich (McKenzie), Laura Blosser (Tanner), Aimee Payling, and Josephine Rich; great-grandchildren, Isaac Fox, Ella Fox, Miles Fox, and Sylvia Blosser.
The family is especially grateful to all the doctors, nurses, therapists, and staff at Norton Brownsboro Hospital that provided exemplary care to Joe throughout his battle with Covid.
A Memorial Gathering to celebrate Joe’s life will be held on Saturday, January 8th, at Westport Road Baptist Church Chapel, 9705 Westport Rd, Louisville KY, with visitation from 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM and service at 3:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Joe’s name to the Westport Road Disaster Relief Program at https://www.mywrbc.org/ or the Southern Baptist International Mission Board at https://www.imb.org/generosity/give-now/.
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