In Memoriam: Harvey Richer

It is with immense sadness that we write to inform you of the passing of our long-time friend and colleague, Professor Harvey Richer, on Nov 13th, 2023.  Harvey had been battling a long-term illness alongside his continuing work and research.

Harvey received his PhD from the University of Rochester, and immediately joined UBC as part of the UBC Geophysics and Astronomy Department in 1970.  During a University reorganization in 1996, Astronomy joined with Physics to create the current Physics and Astronomy Department, where he had been a keystone member ever since.

Harvey was a leader in the field of stellar astronomy, garnering numerous awards and research time to explore galaxy formation and the evolution of stellar systems on the twin Gemini Telescopes, the Canada France Hawaii Telescope, the Hubble space Telescope (HST) and the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Harvey was one of the largest Canadian users of the HST.

Many will remember the commemorative symposium in honour of his 75th birthday, « A Richer Universe” (, held at UBC in May 2019. Highlighting research relevant to Harvey’s interests, sessions focused on globular clusters, stellar populations and white dwarfs, as well as a couple of talks on another of Harvey’s interests: numismatics (, or coin collecting.

Harvey contributed to the Canadian astronomical community for over fifty years.  Among other contributions, Harvey served as the Canadian Gemini Scientist (2000-2003), a member of the 2005 MTR committee, and the CFHT Board of Directors Chair (2008-2009). He was awarded the Carlyle S. Beals Award in 2014.

Harvey established a CASCA medal for Early Career Research in Astronomy in 2016 through a personal donation. The Richer Medal ( is available to Canadian Astronomers (or astronomers working in Canada), in recognition of “significant and sustained early career research in astronomy”.

Contributions in his memory can be made to the Professor Harvey B Richer Astronomy Development Fund (, which will receive donations towards a new observatory to be situated on the roof of the Hebb Building on the centre of the UBC campus, a project with which Harvey was passionately engaged.

Harvey is remembered as a devoted and beloved husband to Klara Richer, cherished father and father-in-law to Samantha and Adam Bretholz, and Aaron Richer and Rebecca Hersant; adored and proud grandfather of Lillian and Mira Bretholz and Asher Richer; dear brother and brother-in-law of Stephen Richer and Janine Smith and Susan and Ron Wener and cherished son of the late Samuel and Lillian Richer and son-in-law of the late Otto Glevitzky and Jolan Forbes.

Our deepest condolences go out to Harvey’s family and friends.  He will be greatly missed.