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Former farmer, philanthropist Earhart dies

Former farmer, philanthropist Earhart dies image
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Richard Earhart, whose family established the philanthropic Earhart Foundation on which he served as a board member, died May 18 in Mount Dora, Fla. He was 91. The son of the late Harry Boyd Earhart, a leading conservationist and political activist, Earhart was a successful area farmer, financial counselor and real estate executive. Funeral services will be Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Botsford Cemetery on Earhart Road in Ann Arbor Township. The road was named after the family which settled in this area from Detroit in 1920. In 1926, Earhart earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and in the years that followed he carried on his family's tradition of public service, agricultural research work and successful business ventures. He was president of the Boyd Realty Company, was a member of the board of directors of the National Bank and Trust Company and a trustee of the Earhart Foundation. He also served as vice president and treasurer of the Litchfield Grain Company. In 1948, Earhart and his father, Harry, purchased from the Ford Motor Company 978 acres of farmland in Lenawee County's Macon Township, southwest of Saline. Under Richard Earhart's direction, the land was used for experiments in the growing and handling of alfalfa and other grass crops, and for the pasturing of scores of top-grade Hereford cattle. There were six houses on the land and the Earharts hired families to occupy the dwellings, work the field and care for the cattle. In 1966, Richard Earhart and his late wife, Ina, sold their 15-room home on a 26-acre section at 850 Earhart Road to a local committee of seven families that established the Greenhills School on the former home site. The Earharts were married in 1932 and Ina Earhart died in 1982. Survivors include two daughters, Patricia Earhart of Sydney, Australia, and Mary E. Bawdenof of Lyme Center, New Hampshire; two granddaughters, Cecily Horton Schneck of Houston, Texas, and Heather D. Horton Sidwell of Hailey, Idaho; and a great-grandson. A memorial service was held in Florida in May.