Famed Cuyahoga Falls artist Jack Richard, 92, died unexpectedly Aug. 6 following a car accident.
Mr. Richard's friend and business partner Mark Giangaspero told the Cuyahoga Falls News-Press Aug. 7 that Mr. Richard had been in remarkably good health for someone his age, swimming daily at the Natatorium and continuing to teach. His only health complaint was diabetes, Giangaspero said, which didn't slow him down; however, "the damage [from the accident] was too extensive" for Mr. Richard to survive, according to Giangaspero.
The accident occurred in the early evening as Mr. Richard was heading to the Natatorium. While Mr. Richard "didn't drive often," Giangaspero said, he did so that day. Mr. Richard was driving through the parking lot behind 2250 Front St. about 5:30 p.m. Aug. 6. when he "accelerated into the parking deck at 2221 Front St., struck a concrete trash can and then a concrete parking deck pillar," according to a traffic crash report provided by the Cuyahoga Falls Police Department. Giangaspero was at the Natatorium himself, working out, when he got the news. Giangaspero was able to make it to the accident site to see Mr. Richard before he was transported to Akron City Hospital for treatment. He was pronounced dead at the hospital at 10:20 p.m., according to the Summit County Medical Examiner's Office.
"He was my teacher and my mentor for 40 years -- since I was a kid," Giangaspero, 51, said. Mr. Richard owned the Studios of Jack Richard at 2250 Front St., where he taught scenic landscape, portrait, still life and figure painting in oil, watercolor, pastel and acrylics as well as in various drawing media. He belonged to many national artist associations and was the recipient of many art awards, according to the studio's website. The Studios of Jack Richard is also the home of the Almond Tea Art Gallery, which features a variety of art available for purchase.
Mr. Richard had no immediate family and Giangaspero says Mr. Richard's employees and students filled that niche for him. "So many loved him and he was easy to love," according to Giangaspero.
Mr. Richard and Giangaspero had discussed what would happen to his gallery upon his death. "We're going to remain open for business with his name -- that was his wish," according to Giangaspero.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete at press time Aug. 7. A spokesperson for the Summit County Medical Examiner's office reported an autopsy was not performed on Mr. Richard. "We just did an external examination [of his body]," the spokesperson said Aug. 7, adding the medical examiner didn't feel the need for a full autopsy, in light of information supplied by the hospital. The cause of Mr. Richard's death was listed as "pending" at press time Aug. 7, awaiting the results of toxicology and other tests. The spokesperson said those results may be six to eight weeks away.
"I've been on the phone all morning with everybody from around the country, former students of his, professional artists working out in the field -- some of them go back 50 years with him, 60 years -- they're Jack's legacy," Giangaspero says.
For more information on the Studios of Jack Richard, call 330-929-1575, or visit www.jackrichard.com to view an online art gallery of his work.