Richard Charles Leach (August 24, 1927 - May 29, 2001) was an American entrepreneur, publisher and television producer. He was a recognized leader in the entertainment and publishing worlds. In the world of entertainment, he was best known for helping his daughter-in-law, Sheryl Leach, launch her home video series idea, Barney & The Backyard Gang, which later led to Barney & Friends. Founder of The Lyons Group and Lyrick Studios, he continued to stay involved in the entertainment business until his death.
Richard C. Charles was born in Chicago, Illinois and is the son of Bernice Lyons Leach and Joseph P. Leach. He lived in Golf, Illinois, where Dick grew up with his brother, Edmund, who was killed on Iwo Jima during World War II.
In 1941 Dick Leach entered Loyola Academy, Chicago, Illinois, and was a member of Loyola Academy's first accelerated class, which was a World War II program that enabled a select group of students to complete the course of studies and graduate in three years. Immediately following his graduation from Loyola Academy in 1944, Dick entered Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois, and graduated three years later in 1947 with a bachelor's degree.
Upon graduation Dick, at age nineteen, joined his father as a full-time employee in the family owned and operated printing business. In 1949, following the death of George Diederich, Joseph Leach became the sole owner of Argus Press and formed a partnership with Richard Leach. Two years later Joseph Leach moved his operations from Ravenswood Avenue to a small old converted dairy at 3505 N. Ashland Avenue in Chicago, from which he conducted business, maximizing his limited resources, a characteristic Dick would adopt for himself throughout his life. At that time Argus Press expanded its printing capabilities. During the 1950s Dick became the company's General Manager. He was responsible for sales and added many advertising agencies and publishers as clients of Argus Press. After ten years of experience in all aspects of the printing field, Dick was given full responsibility for the business.
In 1962 Dick committed his experience and assets to foster the work of the Catholic Church. Dick, an avid follower of the events of Vatican Council II (1962-1965), recognized the need for better communication within the Catholic Church about the Council and its work. After discussing his vision for spreading the work and message of the Council with the president of Loyola University Press, Leach in 1964 launched his work of promoting Vatican Council II by partnering with the Archdiocese of Chicago and producing Study the Liturgy, a set of three audiotapes containing six lectures explaining the liturgical renewal initiated by the Council. Producing and distributing the tapes would eventually lead to other Leach-owned and funded publishing enterprises.
On November 1, 1971 Leach announced that he would move Argus Press, Argus Communications, and Developmental Learning Materials to a 52,000 square foot facility which he would build on a two-acre site at 7440 Natchez Avenue in Niles, Illinois. In 1974 Leach introduced DLM, Inc. The new corporation became the parent organization of Developmental Learning Materials, Argus Communications, and Argus Press.
In the mid-1970s government funding for special education led to the rapid growth of DLM, Inc., and it became the nation's largest publisher of special education materials. In 1983 DLM, Inc. acquired Teaching Resources, the second largest publisher of special education resources, from the New York Times. When the government began to emphasize the theme of "back to basics" in the early 1990s and was vigorously promoting the mainstreaming of children with special learning needs, Special Education publishing was seriously undermined. As a result Developmental Learning Materials was sold in 1992 to enable it through its new owners to continue developing quality products for special education educators and the children they served. DLM, Inc. was also the first to publish educational software during the advent of personal computers (PCs) in the 1980s.
In 1980 Leach's businesses, which now also included a sales office and warehouse in the United Kingdom, reached a new level of growth and need for expansion. After searching the Chicago area for facilities that would accommodate the expansion proved futile, Leach moved his companies in 1981 from Niles, Illinois, to Allen, Texas; a city located about twenty miles north of Dallas. The goal of the relocation was the combining of all Leach's printing and publishing businesses, including printing, editorial, administrative, manufacturing, and warehousing operations, in one facility. To facilitate this expansion, Leach sold Argus Press and his operations in the United Kingdom to key employees.
The Lyons Group
In 1987, Leach's daughter-in-law, Sheryl Leach approached him with an idea of a home video series premised on combining entertainment and education together for young children, which would later become Barney & The Backyard Gang. Richard financed the first three videos with $700,000 out of his own pocket. The Lyons Group was formed by Richard C. Leach under DLM, Inc., to help market Barney.
See: The Lyons Group
The success of the videos led to the hit PBS television series Barney & Friends, which debuted in 1992. Richard became the executive in charge for the television series, home videos, stage shows and a feature film. As Barney was becoming more popular, Richard C. Leach saw the video business emerging. Due to this, Richard founded Lyrick Studios, to expand the offerings of quality children's entertainment products. Leach was an executive in charge of producing the Barney franchise from the beginnings up until 2000.
See: Lyrick Studios
Leach, who was now in his seventies, was ready to slow down and wanted to resolve ownership of Lyrick, although none of his children wanted to run the company. In February 2001, the company was acquired and folded into HIT Entertainment for $275 million, Leach was scheduled to be a director of HIT while the Leach family would own 16% of the company. Richard sadly died of a heart attack on May 29, 2001 at the age of 73.
Leach, who met his wife Rosemary on a blind date, was married on October 1, 1949. Together they had nine children. Aside from his businesses and his family, his passion was traveling, and he toured extensively through South America and Asia.
- Richard was the owner of Lyrick Studios, RCL Enterprises and ColorDynamics.
- Richard shared a birthday with Grey DeLisle, who voiced Trisha Treasure Chest in Barney Under The Sea.
- | Richard Leach; Bankrolled Creation of ‘Barney’ Dinosaur
- | Richard Charles Leach (1927-2001) - Find A Grave Memorial
- | RICHARD C. LEACH, 73
- | Richard Leach - Database: Christian Educators of the 20th Century - Biola University
- | DUMPING THE LITTLE DINOSAUR THAT COULD
- | Year of the dog
- | Richard LEach Obituary (2001) - Chiacgo, IL - Chicago Tribune
- | HIT acquires US rival Lyrick Studios in $275 million deal
- | Will Barney be a T-Rex or a Dodo for HIT?