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In memoriam: Former Progressive Railroading Publisher and Owner Frank J. Richter


Frank J. Richter, a journalist who covered the rail industry for more than 60 years, including 36 with Progressive Railroading, died July 25 after a long illness. He was 97.

"For more than six decades, Frank wrote or talked enthusiastically about what he referred to as rail's 'remarkable course' — whether it was within the body of an article he'd written, the context of a presentation he'd given at an industry event or simply in everyday conversation," said Progressive Railroading Editor Pat Foran. "As a journalist — or, as he put it, a 'highly interested observer' — his passion for the railroad industry was unmatched."

In 1945, Richter left the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as an editor in its Publications Section to co-found Modern Railroads magazine with Dave Watson. Richter served as Modern Railroads' editor from 1945 to 1958; and then as publisher from 1958 through 1971. During that time, Richter helped launched two other publications: Appliance Manufacture and Transportation Management (later known as Transportation Management & Logistics).

In 1972, Richter was named publisher of Progressive Railroading, where Murphy-Richter Publishing Co. subsequently launched two more publications: The Car & Locomotive Yearbook and The Track Yearbook.

In 1989, Richter sold Murphy-Richter Publishing to Ron Mitchell and Rich Zemencik; Richter stayed on as a consultant, contributing articles and a monthly "Comment" to Progesssive Railroading. In 1994, Mitchell and Zemencik sold the magazine and yearbooks to Trade Press Publishing Corp. (now Trade Press Media Group Inc.), with Richter continuing to write his monthly commentary for Progressive Railroading. In 2005, he authored a book titled “The Renaissance of the Railroad: A Chronicle of the Transformation of The Century.” Richter's final piece for Progressive Railroading appeared in the magazine's June 2008 issue.

Richter received his share of recognition during his long career, ranging from receiving the Intermodal Association of North America's Silver Kingpin award for excellence in intermodalism in 1994 to being named an honorary fellow of the Intermodal Transportation Institute at the University of Denver in 1999. In 2001, the American Association of Railroad Superintendents named a scholarship competition — the Frank J. Richter Scholarship — in recognition of Richter's longtime dedication to the association and its ongoing activities.

Richter is survived by his wife, Teresita. Frank and Teresita had been living in Buenos Aires for the past several years.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Teresita and the Richter family," said Progressive Railroading Publisher Steve Bolte.

Progressive Railroading will publish more on Frank Richter's contributions to the rail industry in its September 2013 issue.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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