In Memoriam: Elwood Richard, Founder, NOW Foods

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Bloomingdale, IL — NOW Foods has announced that its founder Elwood Richard has passed away from a prolonged battle with cancer. Richard founded NOW Foods in 1968, but has longed been involved with the natural products industry. His father Paul Richard bought Fearn Soya in 1948, developing the first protein dietary supplement. Armed with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Monmouth University and graduate studies in Physical Chemistry and Biochemistry at Indiana University, Richard stepped in to run Fearn Soya in 1960 after his father’s passing. In 1962, he opened the Health House, his first natural health food store which is now called The Fruitful Yield and operates in 13 locations.

While Richard retired as CEO in 2005, he continued to be involved in the business as as NOW Board of Directors Chair, and a member of the NOW Advocacy Team, the NOW Strategy Team and the NOW Environmental Team. Richard was remained active on the Managing Board of the Natural Health Research Institute, an organization he founded that is committed to “informing consumers, scientists, the media, policymakers and legislators about scientific evidence on the usefulness and cost-effectiveness of diet, supplements and a healthy lifestyle to improve health and wellness.”

“His passion in defending consumer choice in the industry with logic and with scientific knowledge he had as a physical chemist came through many, many times,” said NOW CEO Jim Emme in a press release. “One of the legacies he left is the Golden Rule, treating others as you want to be treated. He lived that every day that I knew him.”

Richard’s impact on the industry is clearly significant and his accomplishments were honored with numerous awards including, induction into the New Hope Hall of Legends, the Natural Products Association Lifetime Achievement Award, the Nutrition Business Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the NNFA Crusader Award, and most recently the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) Visionary Award.

With news of his passing, the industry is in mourning, among which, Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition said in a statement, “He was a true pioneer in the dietary supplement industry and a strong advocate for supplement consumers. His record of involvement in the supplement industry is a long one and his passion for ‘empowering people to lead healthier lives’ came across in every conversation, every communication, and to everyone who had the opportunity to know and work with him. His legacy for our industry will live on for many years.”

Loren Israelson, president of the United Natural Products Alliance stated, “We note with sadness the passing of one of the industry’s true legends, who, as much as anyone in living memory, has shaped the modern natural foods and dietary supplement industries. Elwood combined extraordinary tenacity with a very clear focus on and vision for what he was hoping to accomplish: combining value and quality in his company’s products and to continually invest in his business. He was a force of nature, and his passion created immense benefit for millions of consumers, while contributing to at least three generations of industry leadership. His legacy lives on through the NOW team and its continued support of best practices and multiple industry quality initiatives.”

Heather Wainer, publisher of WholeFoods Magazine had this to say: “We are saddened to hear the news of Elwood’s passing. Since I first started working in the natural products industry, I have heard countless stories about his passion and contributions that, I know, continued until the end. He will be truly missed by all. We feel blessed to have known and learned for him.”

Richard is survived by his wife Betty, daughter Sharon (Richard) Wong and sons Dan and David, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.

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