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Alan Richman: 1939 – 2019


Former WholeFoods Magazine Editor-in-Chief Alan Richman died on March 13, 2019, at age 79. Richman’s long career in journalism included 13 years at the natural products trade magazine, which is one of the longest continuously published media outlets in the industry. Colleagues recall Richman’s kind and generous nature and his willingness to share his wisdom and experience to produce high-quality work.

“Alan was a special friend and made many contributions to our company and the industry,” wrote Howard Wainer, president of WholeFoods (email, May 16, 2019). “He had worked with me for several years [previously]…. Once I started my own publication, he eventually joined WholeFoods as our fourth editor-in-chief.”

Heather Wainer, publisher of WholeFoods, also remembered Richman’s geniality. “Alan was not only a great writer and editor but an excellent teacher,” she wrote (email, June 6, 2019). “He worked tirelessly to put out the best editorial [work] and at a trade show he made sure he spoke to all. He was very well respected by all he worked with…. He always had a story for you and loved life and everyone in his life.”

Richman was born in the Bronx, New York City, on November 12, 1939. He started his journalism career at Hunter College, part of the City University of New York, and was the editor of the school’s student newspaper, The Arrow. He graduated from Hunter College in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in English and served in the US Army from 1961 to 1962. While stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Richman continued to pursue his interest in journalism and served as the editor of the post’s newspaper.

Upon completing his service in the Army, Richman returned to New York and married Kelli Shor in 1964. He worked as a reporter and editor for multiple publications around the city, especially trade publications, and his work earned him a prestigious Jesse H. Neal Certificate of Merit from the American Business Press in 1973. The Neal Awards were created by the American Business Press to recognize excellence in independent business publications. In the 1980s, Richman developed an interest in the natural products industry and became the editor of Health Foods Business, where he met Wainer. This was the beginning of a new career path that would eventually lead him to WholeFoods.

American Botanical Council Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal, who worked with Richman during his time at WholeFoods, said:

Alan was my editor for many years when I wrote a monthly herb column for WholeFoods back in the 1990s. He was a real pleasure to work with, even when I was late submitting my column (which was frequently). He had a very pleasant, friendly, almost laid-back manner — not one that I would normally associate with New Jersey — but he was always very patient and professional with me. And, he had a great sense of humor! I appreciated my relationship with him, one that grew into a true friendship. When he was freelancing and popped up at a natural products trade show, we would often carve out some quality time to have breakfast or lunch. He was a truly gentle and respectful man, and I will surely miss him.

After his retirement in 2007, Richman continued to write articles for WholeFoods and other publications, including The New Jersey Jewish News. He exercised his creativity in other areas, and authored several books and developed an interest in poetry. Teaching others was important to Richman, and he served as an adjunct professor at New York University, Brookdale Community College, and Bergen Community College, and held poetry workshops on cruise ships.

Kelli Richman honored her husband’s love of the written word on his memorial page, writing:

Alan was a wordsmith. There wasn’t a word or phrase that didn’t delight him. He wrestled with the meanings and nuances of vocabulary. He loved manipulating words to fit his needs and to get his thoughts across. As a student he didn’t like poetry; as an adult, it served as another language to share his thoughts and feelings. He wrote a lot of poetry just for me. So, I will miss the banter and the genius. I will miss his thoughts on so many subjects. He was a man of letters...all 26 of them.1

In his personal life, Richman coached youth soccer in Marlboro Township, New Jersey, for 30 years and served on the local soccer league’s board. He also served on the board of trustees at Congregation Beit Shalom in Monroe Township, New Jersey.

Alan Richman is survived by his sister, Toby Richman; Kelli, his wife of 54 years; two sons, Lincoln (Shirel) and Matthew (Elisa); and four grandchildren. A funeral service was held on March 15, 2019, in Manalapan, New Jersey.


  1. Remembering Alan Richman. Dignity Memorial website. Available at: Accessed June 3, 2019.