Richard E. Bye ’42

Richard E. Bye ’42 died on February 26, 2016, in Borrego Springs, California. 

(The following was supplied by the family):

Richard was born in Worcester, Mass. March 12, 1920. He died peacefully in his sleep at the Mountain View Cottages, Borrego, February 26. He is survived by his brother Karl (wife Joanne); two sons, Jonathan and Matthew (wife Isabel); daughter Amelia (spouse Shirley); grandson Daniel; stepson Jonathan Mittleman (wife Colleen); and his own wife, Nancy. His first born, Juliana, died on November 4, 2000.

He grew up in Portland, Maine. His family: mother and father, two sisters and brother, formed the Bye Family Ensemble; they performed classical music across New England and once at Carnegie Hall in New York City. As early as age 8, the budding artist was painting portraits of locals, several published in the Portland paper. He graduated with honors from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine in 1942 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy.

He served mostly in the Pacific, on “the good ship Astute,” before the ship was turned over to the Russians in Alaska. At the end of his naval service, he went to Japanese language school in Oklahoma, retiring as Lt. Commander. There
he met his first wife, Delia.

They moved to New York City to seek their fortune and pursued the publishing business. He became publisher for R.R. Bowker of Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and School Library Journal.

He and Delia raised four children in New City and then South Nyack, New York, while commuting to New York City. They bought their first house in New City, a century­old ramshackle farmhouse, including two barns and several other farm structures. Together, with four toddlers and a menagerie of pets underfoot, they refurbished the old farmhouse and environs, and at the same time imparted to his children both the important use of tools and self­sufficiency. In 1965 the family moved to South Nyack, N.Y. Very active, he was president of the American Bach Society, helped start Publishers for Peace, and was very active in the Democratic Party.

He married his second wife, Nancy, in August, 1974 and he moved to California to be with her and her son, Jonathan. He conducted a consulting project for C.T. Knapp that resulted in the launch of Architectural Digest books, for which he was the publisher. Both lived and worked in LA. They enjoyed lots of international travel for business and pleasure and even a business trip to Singapore and Tokyo. He sketched, photographed and created lovely paintings of everywhere they went. They moved to Del Mar and he commuted to LA in his beloved Alfa Romeo. He moved back to working in magazines and became editor in chief and publisher of Ranch & Coast. On February 7th, l987, they camped at Anza­Borrego Desert State Park and he said, “What’s the matter with this?” They bought a house and have lived here full time ever since.

He was a mean trumpet player and was blessed with a great bass voice for both speaking and singing. Some of his happiest years began in Borrego Springs. He played golf and tennis every morning, painted every afternoon, helped launch Friends of the Library, and was in the theater nearly every night. Austin Custodia called him “the voice” and would not put on South Pacific unless Richard would sing “Bloody Mary.” He was emcee for many events and in the cast of many shows, including: Art, My Fair Lady, Underpants, Noises Off, Love Letters, as well as Readers’ Theater.