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 Post subject: Irv Rich is gone
PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:22 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2008 5:53 pm
Posts: 13181
Location: CT
Our steadfast Z buddy Irving Rich died at dawn today, 09Feb19. You all know him as the 80+ year old member in the electric wheelchair. Irv attended many of our meetings and events and was a common attendee at each of our past 8 Annual Fall Outing picnics except last year, when he was in the hospital.

Irv led an exciting, high-impact life. He raced sports cars at Sebring, Lime Rock, Road Atlanta and Watkins Glen. He served as a Marine between Korea and Vietnam. He traveled the world as a professional world-class Americas Cup "tall ships" sailboat racer. He owned several yachts and power boats (even since I knew him) and loved to be out on the open water even in his wheelchair, which scared me to death. He bought and sold many different sports and muscle cars. He was an enthusiastic chef and an aficionado of good food and wine (but he loved Heineken beer). He owned and shot a variety of firearms until his arthritis made him give those up. He had boxes of old first-hand racing slides and photographs, including some candid photos of Caroll Shelby with the first prototype Cobra, Zora-Arkus Duntov with the 1957 prototype Corvette SS racer at Sebring, and Dan Gurney and Tony Rudd standing beside a smoking, wrecked practice race car after it hit the only tree on the Sebring racetrack in the late 1950s. He laughed each time he retold that story.

In 1997 Irv crashed and flipped a SAAB here in Connecticut and broke his upper back, which paralyzed him from the chest down. He spent the last 22 years of his life in a wheelchair. He developed severe arthritis in both hands and was legally a quadriplegic.

Irv refused to let such little annoyances slow him down much. He insisted on living independently in his Shelton handicap-accessible apartment, cooking his own food and having an aide visit twice a day to transfer him btwn the chair and bed. Sometimes he had the aide accompany him to our meetings, but he often just came alone in his handicap-equipped van. He got his 250-lb self in and out of it without help.

Irv bought and sold collectible cars for fun and (sometimes) profit. I bet I could name a dozen cool cars, boats and motorcycles Irv has bought, driven, fixed up and sold during the 8 years I knew him, including one 500bhp 390 AMX street racer, a 300ZX twin turbo and two cabin cruisers. He knew a lot about individual US muscle cars, especially their shortcomings, their options (year by year) and what to watch out for when buying one. He has owned at least three Z cars since I have known him, all automatics. He equipped each vehicle with his own personal hand controls, drove them until he saw something he liked better and bought that. He even had a 1,200-pound Honda Gold Wing motorcycle with a $1,000 sidecar and an automatic transmission once. He leaves behind a nice 1980 Anniversary 280zx which he never got a chance to work on or drive.

Almost a year ago Irv fell ill and began spending days or weeks at a time in local hospitals. He would get home for a few days, get worse and return to a hospital bed. Last summer they told him they would keep him in the hospital or a nursing home for about 8 months. He never saw his home again. He hated industrialized hospital food and I used to smuggle real chow, good ice-cream and a Heineken in to him as often as possible. He dropped more than 150 pounds and looked happy and healthy until his final week. He was alert and lucid when I saw him on Friday, but showed stroke-like symptoms on Saturday, and asked me for a priest.

His family gathered around him and moved him to hospice when he lapsed into an apparent coma. I saw him once more this week, when he opened his eyes and communicated with me by batting his eyelids. We had about a half-hour alone together to 'talk'. His family called me today to tell me he died peacefully just at dawn at this morning's spectacular sunrise, with them at his side. Funeral arrangements have not yet been made.

Our Club was one of Irv's favorite things during the final 9 years of his life. He loved to buy and sell Z cars and parts and was always 'on top' of all the listings of neat cars for sale around the country. He communicated with hundreds of sellers in many states. He always offered to pay me to travel to tiny out-of-the-way backwater towns around the country to assess a car and (if it was functional), drive it back here for him. One time I drove his 1971 240Z with hand controls, an experience I don't care to have again.

For as long as he was able, he followed and contributed to this website, finding great happiness in meeting and talking about Paul in RI (all those Z parts!), Rick with Lucky #13, Thor from Germany, John K, John T and the Footes and Gentiles with their perfect S30 cars, Bob Sharp, Vinny Bedini and others. Irv also sort of had a crush on a little gal employee at our Miller Nissan meeting a few years back and remembered her often. He loved Ross' free hotdogs each year and the picnic was the highlight of each season for him. He made several monetary donations to the Club when our Club Kitty was hungry. Irv made over 300 posts on our Club website, a real feat when you consider what a physical challenge that was for him.

In spite of the action-packed lifestyle he led and the risks he took over 8 decades, Irv died peacefully in a clean comfortable private hospice bed as the morning sun exploded into his room this morning, with his family beside him, playing his favorite music.

Farewell Irv Rich, you'll be missed.
Z ya at the Big Z Paddock,
The CT Z Car Club

(I have a single photograph of Irv, taken at our AutoCross event on 08Aug10, but it's on a damaged computer which will not allow me to transfer it here. If you have any pictures of him, feel free to share them here. I know he can be seen at our annual picnic, but I don't have those photos).
Frank T

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1970 240Z


Last edited by Frank T on Sun Feb 17, 2019 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Irv Rich is gone
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 2:08 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:32 am
Posts: 565
Location: Germany
A fulfilled life. Remarkable. Thank you for this appreciation Frank.
My heartfelt sympathy.

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T. Link
Germany
1971 240z (HLS30-16506)


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 Post subject: Re: Irv Rich is gone
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:26 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 1:12 am
Posts: 2149
Location: Darien, CT
Thank you Frank for this update and this very detailed tribute.

Irv was a great man a beloved member of our club.

May he rest in peace.

Ross

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Ross Williams
1978 280Z Black Pearl Edition 36k Original Miles
2008 350Z Bob Sharp GT-33 Edition


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 Post subject: Re: Irv Rich is gone
PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:06 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2009 1:14 pm
Posts: 215
Location: Southington, CT
I remember when Irv was searching for an S130 with T-tops, so that he could get in/out of a Z more easily given his condition. That's dedication to the hobby you love. Inspirational.

Great tribute, Frank :thumbs_up:

RIP Irv


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 Post subject: Re: Irv Rich is gone
PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:52 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:16 pm
Posts: 445
Location: Ansonia, CT
Sad news about Irv. :( :( :(

Thanks Frank for sharing some of Irv's life story with us.

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John Kish
1971 240Z original owner


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 Post subject: Re: Irv Rich is gone
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 11:36 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2008 9:27 pm
Posts: 894
Location: Pachaug, Ct
I recall Irv showing up at one of the Pachaug Pond soirees at 11a. 'Fashionably late' for one of these was 5-6p; his schedule did not allow him to hang around.
Had no idea about his colorful backround; thank you Frank.
RIP Irv.

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71 240zx


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 Post subject: Re: Irv Rich is gone
PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 12:23 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2008 5:53 pm
Posts: 13181
Location: CT
Irv had 100 bar stories, but if you didn't drink or catch him alone he never talked about them. He had been almost everywhere on the globe I could mention, usually by boat. I wish I had known him before his accident, he must have been an unforgettable character.

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1970 240Z


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 Post subject: Re: Irv Rich is gone
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2019 6:32 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2008 5:53 pm
Posts: 13181
Location: CT
Irving A. Rich
Oct 1, 1937 - Feb 9, 2019 Irving A. Rich, 81, of Shelton, CT, passed away on February 9, 2019. He was the son of Ethel DeMarco Rich and the late Henry T. Rich. Besides his mother he is survived by his two sons, Henry (Yana) and Morgan (Holly) and his granddaughter Ariella. He also leaves behind his brothers Kenneth (Joyce), Leonard (Carol), Terrence and sister Elizabeth Rich. He was predeceased by his sister Jeanne Miko.
Irv was a competitive sailor, an avid sports car racer and an automobile enthusiast. He was also a veteran, having served honorably in the United States Marine Corps. Donations in his memory may be made to Connecticut Hospice,100 Double Beach Road, Branford, CT 06405
Published in Connecticut Post on Feb. 14, 2019

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1970 240Z


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 Post subject: Re: Irv Rich is gone
PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2019 2:57 pm 
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Joined: Sun Feb 25, 2018 5:25 pm
Posts: 86
Wow, such an accomplished competitor and liver of life... Didn't realize he had had such a storied life. Haven't been on the site in a while, sorry to see his passing.. I had to break in to his handicapped van a few years back at the fall outing as he had accidentally left the keys in it... He was so appreciative... Only took a few minutes and I was more than happy to help him out... God bless and RIP Irv...

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Now on my 17th z 1980 2+2 5speed


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 Post subject: Re: Irv Rich is gone
PostPosted: Thu May 23, 2019 4:49 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2008 5:53 pm
Posts: 13181
Location: CT
He's been gone more than 3 months and each time the phone rings I expect it to be him. He had a completely unique voice, unmistakable as him and only him, but he began every message with, "Hi Frank, this is Irv..."

I pulled my Z into a sportscar repair place up in North Haven a few weeks ago and parked beside Irv's excellent 280zx in the parking lot! :shock: That gave me a start, expecting to find him in the waiting room! :lol: His family was having it serviced before they sell it.

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1970 240Z


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