IN MEMORIAM: W. Richard Bingham

by Jane Ahrens

W. Richard Bingham “Dick” died peacefully at his cherished home in Fishers Island, NY on August 18, 2015 surrounded by his loving family. The loss is felt for this family man who was a lifetime keen intellect, Navy Veteran, respected financier, philanthropist, civic affairs strategist, competitor and avid sportsman. He was foremost a loving husband and father dedicated to his extended family and friends and having as he called it “the fortunate opportunity to experience a lifetime of participation in problem solving and creation of new entities.”

Dick was born in New York City and grew up in Bucks County, PA and Hillsborough, CA. He attended Hillsborough School, Town School for Boys (Class of ’49), Middlesex (Class of ’53), Stanford University (Class of ’57), and Harvard Business School (Class of ’61). He attended the Universities of Geneva and Paris. Throughout every stage of his life he held a myriad of leadership positions beginning at Stanford where he was President of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, and head of campus security. He served as Line Officer aboard the U.S. Navy destroyer, U.S.S. Davis, from 1957-1959. He remembered his naval service fondly which contributed to his unwavering love of the ocean. Dick was characterized by and often closed remarks on occasion with this line taken from his US Navy days, “May fair winds and following seas accompany you.” Following his military service, Dick began his career on Wall Street at the investment banking firm of Kuhn, Loeb, and Co. in 1961. As a partner, Director of Investment Banking, a member of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors, he advised many companies and countries on capital raising activities. He continued his career as a partner of Lehman Brothers in 1977 where he was Director of Investment Banking, Corporate Finance, and Mergers and Acquisitions and a member of the Board. In 1988 he founded American Industrial Partners (AIP) which became a respected, ground-breaking private equity firm. As a savvy investor and President of AIP, Dick and his American Industrial Partners team raised four funds and led multiple investments in diverse industrial companies while he served on a number of corporate boards. In 1996, during Mayor Frank Jordan’s administration in San Francisco, Dick was appointed Honorary Consul to the Republic of Lithuania. Also, during that time, he was appointed to the newly formed San Francisco’s Committee on Jobs where the primary focus was to promote a business climate that allowed San Francisco to remain a desirable place to live, work, and operate a business.

Throughout his life, Dick was dedicated to philanthropy and offered his services and support to many Bay Area institutions over the years. His philanthropic interests reflected his love of the wonders of the world, nature, the ocean, music, and the arts. His most memorable philanthropic lifetime achievement was the California Academy of Sciences located in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. He served as Chairman of its Board from 1996 until it’s reopening in 2007. He was extremely proud of what he and the board accomplished, especially literally knocking on doors to aid in the passing of Proposition B, which was pivotal in the process to completely rebuild the Academy into the world-class science and educational institution that it is today. As an adjunct to the Academy, he envisioned and worked tirelessly to raise private monies needed to fund the Music Concourse Garage which lies between the Academy and de Young Museums. He served as Chairman of that board. He passionately believed that education and educational pursuits were important for individuals and society. To him, saving and rebuilding the Academy was the tangible apex of that passion. His efforts helped ensure the Academy remained in Golden Gate Park as a state-of-the-art learning center and museum.


Dick also is past trustee of The Town School for Boys, Marin Country Day School, The Urban School, The Bay School, Middlesex School, The World Affairs Council, St. John’s Church on Fishers Island, and CPMC Foundation. He was a member of the Pacific Union Club, the Burlingame Country Club, The San Francisco Golf Club, and the Fishers Island Club.

Dick is survived by his loving wife, Wendy Wasson Bingham, adoring children, Lock, Frances, and Grace Bingham, and devoted sister Betsy Bingham Davis. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Dick’s memory to the California Academy of Sciences, which was an important cause for Dick.

Published in The New York Times on August 23, 2015

A Service for Dick Bingham was held at St. John’s Church on Fishers Island, Friday, August 21 at 10:30 am.

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USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay . Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

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