Tom Richards Death – Obituary: Former CDW Ceo, former standout basketball player and Pitt board of trustees chairman, Tom Richards has passed away, he died at the age of 66.
Tom Richards’s cause of death is cancer, he died on Thursday night after a lengthy battle with cancer. The channel community will continue to remember him as a “talented athlete, focused coach and gifted teacher”.
Tom graduated from Pitt, he earned a master’s degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He spent more than 45 years in the tech sector, including nearly two decades at Bell Atlantic and turns serving as vice president for telecom company Ameritech, CEO of Clear Communications and COO at Quest Communications.
Tom Richards is survived by his wife, Mary Beth. They both met in Pitt. He and Mary Beth founded Little Panthers in 2001, an organization in Upper St. Clair devoted to teaching children how to play basketball. They also established a men’s basketball scholarship at Pitt in 2011, the same year Richards was elected to the school’s board of trustees.
CDW CEO Christine Leahy, who took over from Richards as CEO in 2018, informed the channel community of his passing in an email sent to CDW partners.
“I’m writing to share the devastating news that former CDW CEO, Tom Richards, passed away last night after a short illness,” said Leahy. “Tom was CDW’s CEO from 2011 to 2018 and under his leadership CDW set new standards of excellence. Tom was brilliant. He was humble. He was strong. He was kind. Tom was a competitor. A talented athlete. A focused Coach. A gifted Teacher.”
Industry colleagues mourned Richards as a down to earth leader who viewed his CEO job as coach, driving employees to reach new heights with his quiet, unassuming leadership style. That approach paid off in dramatic sales growth. Under his leadership, CDW sales grew from $9.6 billion in sales in 2011 to more than $15 billion in 2017.
Richards, who earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Pittsburgh and a masters degree in management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), joined CDW in 2009 as president and chief operating officer and became CEO in 2011. He added the title of chairman in 2013.
Richards held everyone he interacted with to the “highest standards,” but did so with “compassion,” wrote Leahy. “What I will take from him above all else is his unwavering belief and ability to see the possibilities in others. Under Tom’s leadership people blossomed.”
Addressing the partner community, Leahy wrote: “I know you will be grieving this news alongside the CDW family and all who knew and loved Tom. We will share more information in the coming days. For today though, I would ask that you take time to reflect on the life and legacy of Tom.”
The Richards family is hosting a visitation for friends at the John A. Freyvogel Sons, 4900 Centre Ave. in Oakland, from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Nov. 10 and 11. A memorial service and public celebration is scheduled for 10 a.m. Nov. 12 at Heinz Memorial Chapel in Oakland.