Young, Richard

Richard Young, an Eagle Scout, earned his juris doctor degree from the University of Michigan and served in the JAG Corps. He ran the family business and contributed generously of his time and money to the Salvation Army, United Way, and the arts in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Biographical Highlights

Richard Young was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1929 to a successful business owner. Young graduated from Ottawa Hills High School and earned degrees in business and law from the University of Michigan before joining the family firm. From 1975 to 1991, he was president of Behler-Young, a company that sells heating and cooling equipment. He was an active giver and volunteer for a number of community causes.

Historic Roots

Richard Young was born in Grand Rapids on October 5, 1929. His father, Wayne, was co-founder of the Behler-Young Company, a distributor of heating and cooling equipment and supplies. Richard grew up in the Ottawa Hills neighborhood and graduated from Ottawa Hills High School in 1947. He was very active in the Boy Scouts and, after earning many merit badges for service and leadership, became an Eagle Scout. He met his future wife, Barbara Honecker, at Cascade Hills Country Club while they were still in high school. He received a degree in business administration from the University of Michigan as well as a juris doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. He married Barbara during his last year at the University of Michigan, and she taught school in Ann Arbor. He spent three years in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG). He worked briefly for local law firms and then joined the family company in 1958, becoming president in 1975. He was replaced as president by his son Doug in 1991. Dick Young has contributed generously of his time and money to a variety of organizations in Grand Rapids, including the Salvation Army, United Way, and the arts.


Richard Young served as a second-generation leader of a family business, of which his son has since become president. Since his days as a Boy Scout and Eagle Scout, Young has been committed to community service. He has given considerable time and effort to community causes, including the United Way, YMCA, and Salvation Army, and he served on the board of many more foundations and organizations.

Ties to the Philanthropic Sector

Dick Young spent four decades volunteering for a variety of local organizations. He has served as campaign chairman of the Kent County United Way. He was president of the local United Way. He was chairman of the board of directors of Porter Hills Retirement Community. He served as vice chairman of the board of trustees of Blodgett Memorial Medical Center and chairman of the board of directors of the YMCA. He has given time and treasure to many more organizations, including the Boy Scouts, the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, Spectrum Health Care, and the Salvation Army.

Key Related Ideas

The Behler-Young Company was co-founded by Young’s father and is now a three-generation family business. Richard originally studied to be a lawyer, but spent most of his career with the company. He has given back to his community by donating and by volunteering his time for boards and fundraising efforts.

Important People Related to the Topic

  • Wayne Young: Richard’s father co-founded Behler-Young in 1926. He was also a supporter of the Salvation Army.

Related Nonprofit Organizations

  • Boy Scouts of America: The Boy Scouts of America provides a program for young people that builds character, trains them in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and develops personal fitness.
  • The Heart of West Michigan United Way advances the common good by focusing on education, income, and health through community leadership, collaboration, fundraising, volunteer recruitment, programs and services.
  • The objectives of the Salvation Army are the advancement of the Christian religion, of education, the relief of poverty, and other charitable objects beneficial to society or the community of mankind as a whole. It is an international organization originated in England. Michigan is in the USA central territory.
  • The mission of the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy mind, spirit, and body for all.

Related Web Sites

  • Behler-Young: A family-owned business since1926, Behler-Young is a third-generation company that supplies heating and cooling systems.
  • Porter Hills Retirement Community: The mission of Porter Hills is to provide a continuum of high quality communities and services for older adults in accordance with Christian values.

Bibliography and Internet Sources

Slykhouse, Gloria. “Dick Young Works for Health.” Grand Rapids Magazine, May 1979, p. 10.

Clipping file and oral history in the SOUL of Philanthropy collection in the Grand Rapids History and Special Collections of the Grand Rapids Public Library