Feature Stories

Published on July 20th, 2017 | by WMJledger


Toby Richmond was a passionate leader of the Central Mass. Jewish community

By Stacey Dresner

Toby Richmond, president of the Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts, died June 18 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital with her family by her side, after a courageous battle with cancer.

“People like Toby don’t come around often these days,” said Federation Executive Director Steven Schimmel at her funeral on June 22. “Toby is a classic, and classics are unforgettable.”

Richmond, 74, was the wife of Charles “Chuck” Richmond. Born in Worcester, Toby was the daughter of Abraham and Annie L. (Kugle) Noar. She was a graduate of Classical High School’s class of 1960, and graduated from Becker Jr. College with an associate’s degree in accounting. She was chief financial officer at Martin Tire, which she co-owned with her husband Chuck.

President of the Jewish Federation of Central Mass at the time of her death, Richmond was a Lion of Judah and was one of the Federation’s most generous donors.

“It was an honor to work with Toby,” Schimmel said. “She made a lasting impression on me and she will certainly be remembered fondly in this community. I only hope that Toby got as much pride and honor from serving us as Federation president, as our community got from the benefits of her work, and we benefitted greatly.”

“During her tenure, I was fortunate to work very closely with Toby on various projects,” said Mindy Hall, Federation’s director of outreach and engagement. “She would always tell me what a great team we made, and I had to agree. I loved working with her and always enjoyed our time spent together. Her energy was undeniable and her passion unstoppable. She did so much, gave so freely and just loved her community. Was she pushy? Indeed yes! But all for the purpose of the greater good of our community.  This is what made her so special.”

She was a member of Congregation Beth Israel, a life member of Hadassah, past president of the Jewish Healthcare Center, and past president of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Jewish Healthcare Center. She was a former member of the board of directors of the Jewish Healthcare Center, Temple Sinai and Jewish Family Services.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by a son Eric and his wife, Maria; a daughter, Sue Levy and her husband, Farron; and her grandchildren, Connor, Caitlyn, Harrison, Ayala, Sabina and Ellery. She was predeceased by two brothers, Myron “Mike” and Bernard “Bucky” Noar; and a sister, Harriet Gruber.

Funeral services for Toby were held at Congregation Beth Israel on Thursday, June 22.

Contributions in Toby Richmond’s memory may be made to the Jewish Federation of Central Mass., 633 Salisbury St., Worcester, MA 01609.


Special to the Ledger

Howard Borer, former director of the Jewish Federation of Central Mass., shares his remembrance of Toby Richmond

The late Toby Richmond and former Federation Executive Director Howard Borer on the Campaign & Directors mission to Greece and Israel in during the Israel-Gaza Conflict in 2014.

Every so often, your path will cross with someone who will totally surprise you. I had known Toby tangentially over the years. I had solicited her for her Federation gift on occasion and had interacted with her infrequently in her various community leadership positions.

After chairing the Jewish Healthcare Board of Directors, she was looking for another opportunity to make a difference in the community. Luckily for this community, she looked to the Federation for the opportunity to revitalize the Federation’s women’s division. In order to better prepare her for this position and to better understand the impact that Federation dollars have worldwide and in Israel, I accompanied her on the Jewish Federations of North America’s campaign chairs and directors mission to Greece and Israel. What a revelation! Toby jumped right in, asking questions, taking voluminous notes, planning how she would transmit her experiences to the community upon her return.

Her eyes widened when she learned of the history of the Greek Jewish community, laughed with the children at the Athens Jewish Day School, and cried at the train station in Salonika where Jews were taken to their death during the Holocaust.

Unfazed by the incoming rocket attacks in Israel, she helped initiate the Stop the Sirens campaign, all the while soaking in knowledge from all the people she met and all the places she visited, and the networking she did. Without exception, everyone on the trip was impressed with her eagerness to learn and contribute. And of course, Toby could not be missed or get lost- Just look for the lady with the bright red hair!

This was just the beginning of an intensive period for Toby: Women’s chair, campaign chair and Federation president. All the while working full-time, caring for her new grandchild, concerned about the health of her sister and brother. She was tireless. The only thing that could bring her down was the terrible illness that struck her so suddenly and so devastatingly.

I grew to admire and respect Toby as a campaigner, as a community volunteer but most importantly as a friend and confidant. The community will miss Toby, and so will I.

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