Back to Harvey's LifeWeb

Obituary

Harvey Eric Rich, 78 (May 20, 1943 – March 11, 2022), was the beloved husband of Magnhild Lien, loving father of Jessica Rich, and dedicated brother to Alice Rich.

 

Born in Philadelphia, PA to Emanuel Rich and Mildred Blieden Rich, Harvey spent his childhood growing up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in Stuyvesant Town. He graduated from the prestigious Stuyvesant High School, and he earned his bachelor's degree from Alfred University in upstate New York, majoring in physics.

 

Harvey had an abiding love for learning that led him to pursue multiple graduate degrees in different fields. He started out pursuing a Physics Ph.D. at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, entering the program in 1965. However, Harvey's interest in physics faded as the Vietnam War escalated, replaced by a passion for social justice. Harvey followed his new intellectual passion by applying to Purdue's Ph.D. program in Sociology, despite never having taken a course in the subject area. He was accepted into the program with the caveat that he first take an undergraduate sociology class, which he did while he completed his Physics master's degree (obtained in 1968). Four years later, Harvey graduated from Purdue University with a Ph.D. in Sociology.

 

In 1972, Harvey went on to become a professor of sociology at California State University at Northridge (CSUN), where he stayed for his entire career.

 

Harvey became increasingly concerned with environmental issues in the 1980s. Again, Harvey followed his passion through careful study-and in 1982, while still working full-time at CSUN, he entered UCLA's doctoral program in Environmental Science and Engineering (D. Env). Toward the end of the program, he took a year and a half leave from CSUN to complete an internship as an environmental scientist at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). In 1987, he achieved ABD (all but dissertation) status, after having completed his coursework, passed his qualifying exams, and successfully defended his dissertation prospectus. Ultimately, Harvey chose not to complete the dissertation-ready to return to his job at CSUN and arguing he had gotten what he wanted from the program.

 

In addition to teaching and conducting research, Harvey was actively involved as a leader at his university and in professional associations. He served as Chair of the Sociology department for six and a half years. One of his legacies as department chair was to build community among Sociology majors by establishing an annual department honors dinner, where students were recognized for their achievements with their families in attendance. Harvey was actively involved with the California Sociological Association (CSA) since its creation in 1990, serving for many years as a member of the Governing Council and as its president from 2002 to 2003. Harvey was also a member of the Governing Council of the Pacific Sociological Association (PSA).

 

Harvey was a proud father of Jessica and loved his daughter dearly. He was not shy about telling family and friends of her many talents and accomplishments as she grew from a little girl to a successful university professor who followed in her parents' footsteps with a degree in the social sciences. He cherished the professional conversations they had as she grew older.

 

He pursued his passions outside of academia with just as much enthusiasm as his intellectual pursuits. Harvey enjoyed cycling, and for many years he would go on long bike rides every Saturday morning with his wife and the Conejo Valley Cyclists (CVC). Harvey was also an avid wine collector, and he amassed a sprawling collection that was carefully recorded on pencil and paper. Harvey's indecipherable writing added to the adventure of finding his old wines.

 

Harvey loved to travel. Every two years he would visit his wife's family in Norway, and Harvey made sure they used each trip to see a new part of Europe as well. By the time of his passing, he had travelled throughout Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, and Oceania, and he was starting to plan post-Covid travel adventures. Harvey and his wife loved to collect pieces of art on their journeys, and their home is known for its museum-like quality-filled with unique sculptures, paintings, and other art objects.

 

He was also an early and ardent fan of electric cars. He championed their ability to fight climate change and loved his Tesla model 3. His wife and daughter joked about his ability to turn any conversation into a discussion about Tesla.

 

Harvey was known for his dry wit, and his caring and tolerant nature. He built a loving community of friends and family during his fifty years in California, while keeping in touch with his family on the East Coast. In 2008, Harvey and his wife purchased a retirement home in Portland, Oregon, and at the time of his passing they were transitioning toward living there full time.

 

In addition to his wife, daughter, and sister, Harvey is already missed by his many cousins and friends.

 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to 350.org or Oxfam America.