DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - Howard C. Ris, a most successful business leader and devoted family patriarch, passed away on Wednesday, January 11, 2012, at his home in the Village of Golf, Fla. For many years, he also had a home in Lake Placid, N.Y. He was 96 years young.
The son of Dorothy S. Ris and Charles H. Ris of Bayside, he graduated from Freeport High School and Duke University, Phi Beta Kappa, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1938, and was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity. He also was awarded membership in the prestigious ODK national honor society for meritorious collegiate service and was the manager of the Duke varsity football team.
After college he entered the printing paper distribution business in New York City, joining his father who had recently acquired the business from the Keith Products Co., who renamed it Ris Paper Co. Starting as a sales representative calling on the printing industry, his career was interrupted by the onset of World War II, during which he served in the Army Intelligence Corps.
Upon the war's end he rejoined Ris Paper and became very successful in his sales role, helping it to grow in size and strength in a very competitive industry. He became the sales manager, and upon the untimely death of his father, rose to the position of president and CEO at age 39. Under his strongly competitive spirit, engaging personality and management skills, the company continued to grow in strength and influence.
In 1965 he took a different path at that time and acquired another paper distribution business headquartered in Boston. Employing his own unique "hands on" style, he integrated it into Ris Paper, making the combined company stronger than its separate parts. He continued to expand the business through further acquisitions in the ensuing years so that it eventually grew to one of the largest privately owned paper distribution firms in the country, with 26 locations spanning the New England, Mid-Atlantic, Ohio and Indiana areas.
By forging his own high degree of personal integrity into every aspect of the company's operations, he earned a greater degree of support from the company's major suppliers. In 2000 one of Ris Paper's major suppliers acquired it and integrated it into their North American distribution system, which enabled him to devote more time to enjoying life in his home at the Country Club of Florida in Boynton Beach, Fla.; where he and his devoted wife of 34 years, Patricia (Gill) Ris have lived since 1983. He became an active participant in the club's activities and social life, culminating in his election for a term of office as its president in 1994.
Aside from his success in business, Mr. Ris will most be remembered for his positive spirit and the enthusiasm with which he approached every day of his life. That indomitable sense of optimism carried him through any challenge he faced and provided a great source of inspiration to his family and friends.
He was the beloved husband of his first wife, Edythe (Arenholz) Ris of 31 years, who predeceased him; father of their two children, Barbara Ris Walden (Thomas), and Howard C. Ris, Jr. (Margaret), grandfather of Thomas Walden IV (Katherine), Laura Walden Dugan (Brendan), Sara, Elisabeth and Julia Ris; and great-grandfather of Thomas Henry and Elizabeth Jane Walden.
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14, at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 188 South Swinton Ave, in Delray Beach, Fla.
In lieu of flowers, donations to St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Delray Beach, Florida, 33444, or St. Eustace Episcopal Church, 44 Main St., Lake Placid, NY, 12946, would be appreciated.