Richard Stahl 82, who died on Jan. 3, was a New Jersey businessman when he first visited Arizona in 1983 and fell in love with the state. “I will retire here someday,” he told a friend. And he did, although it was 1997 – after many more visits to Arizona – before he could retire from the family business, National Manufacturing company, and fulfill his promise.
A New Jersey native, Richard grew up with a love of theater, particularly musical theater, nurtured by visits with his mother to Broadway shows. For a while, he considered becoming a priest, attending Seton Hall Prep and Seton University before he left the seminary and went on to complete graduate studies in psychology at Fordham University, joining the family’s business in 1962. Though he owned previous residences in Arizona, his favorite was Case Ben Dita (blessed house in Spanish), the McCormick Ranch home where he lived from 2004 until his death on Jan. 3, 2021. Only second to that was his vacation home in Payson, in Geronimo Estates, Creek Haven.
Throughout his adult life, Richard was a volunteer and generous patron of many organizations dedicated to GLBTQA causes. Casa Ben Dita became the site of fundraisers for many of his favorites – particularly Lambda Legal, the oldest national legal organization dedicated to working for the civil rights of the GLBTQA community and those suffering with HIV/AIDs; and Phoenix Body Positive, later renamed Southwest Center for HIV/AIDs. Once introduced to Body Positive by Bobby Barnes, Richard was involved in Night for Life (cochaired in 2007 with Jennifer Bohnert), Dining Out for Life and Tour for Life. He was presenting sponsor for several Nights for Life and other fundraising events. Second only to Bob and Renee Parsons in his individual financial commitment to the organization, he was named the Outstanding Philanthropist, received the Lifetime Legacy Award and was named a Partner for Life. In his honor, the Center named its clinical trials division the “Richard P. Stahl Research Wing”.
When Aunt Rita’s Foundation brought the AIDS Walk back to Phoenix in 2008, Richard was an early supporter. He also supported Aunt Rita’s Red Brunch to celebrate World AIDS Day and joined the Foundation’s Red Purse Club, generously donating year after year.
Richard also shared his love for the arts with his friends, supporting Arizona Opera, Phoenix, Ballet, Arizona Theatre Company, the Orpheum Theater and many other arts and cultural organizations.
Richard loved people, easily bringing them into his circle of friends, and family, some of them as far away as Germany. His affection for dogs, especially Doxies, rounded out his life.
He eventually succumbed to complications of Alzheimer’s Disease and leaves a void in the lives of all who knew him.