Richard I. "Dick" Levin
March 10, 1930 - November 11, 2016
Richard I. "Dick" Levin, a longtime business professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill who also was a successful entrepreneur, management consultant, investor and author, died Friday at his Chapel Hill home of prostate cancer.
He was 86.
While Levin was rooted in academia, his passion was flying, and his seven decades as a private pilot included flying his Piper Twin Comanche around the world in 1992.
He was a prolific writer, publishing more than 100 articles and case studies in publications including the Harvard Business Review. He wrote more than two dozen books, ranging from statistics to investment manuals to his memoir. His book "Statistics for Management" published by Prentice-Hall was translated into several languages and through seven editions and 25 years served as a standard business school text.
Levin was the founding director in 1970 of the Young Executive Institute at UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School, a five-week-long program for regional business executives. He taught both undergraduate and graduate-level classes informed by his inimitable classroom personality highlighted by lessons learned from growing up in eastern North Carolina, teaching in Africa and Turkey, serving in Newfoundland as a U.S. Air Force procurement officer, and running a South Carolina peach farm with his father and a brother. Among the best lessons he said he learned in business was "Stand next to smart people; they help you avoid dumb mistakes."
His academic career focused on strategic planning, new ventures and financial management in private companies. He taught for 34 years at UNC, including time as an associate dean and in the MBA program. He was inducted in 1973 into the university's oldest and most prestigious society The Order of the Golden Fleece. Named MBA Teacher of the Year in 1978, he was also the first recipient of the Phillip Kettleman Professorship in Business Administration in 1985, and later had the Richard I. Levin Distinguished Chair of Business Administration funded by a former student.
As an investor he started successful management companies and with a group of partners started The Village Bank, that was later acquired by Triangle Bank. In 1968, he and another UNC business professor opened Achievement Inc., a company that went public a year later. By the early 1970s, it had opened five offices throughout the eastern U.S. His consulting clients included Golden Corral, Carolina Power & Light, the Research Triangle Institute and others.
Levin was born in Philadelphia and lived in Glassboro, N.J. before moving with his family to Williamston in Martin County in 1939. His father, Meyer, held a variety of sales jobs and his mother, Minerva, raised him and his two brothers, Robert and Ron. Levin graduated from Oak Ridge Military Academy in Greensboro and earned both his undergraduate and master's degrees from N.C. State. He received his Ph.D.in 1959 from UNC-CH.
During his undergraduate and graduate years he turned his piano playing skills into the popular Dick Levin and his Orchestra, traveling with band members throughout the South to play at inaugurals, socials and university dances. In later life, he'd happily sit in with bands on cruise ships, and in nightclubs and hotel lobbies, playing Broadway, jazz and popular standards. Until recently, he was part of a three-man band playing at various functions.
As one of the core members of Judea Reform Congregation, Levin served as synagogue president, and was head of the building committee that built JRC's first permanent home in the mid-1970s on West Cornwallis Road in Durham.
He also was instrumental in leading the beach renourishment effort in Carteret County in the early 2000s that led to the rebuilding and preservation of beaches from Atlantic Beach to Emerald Isle.
He married Charlotte Moscovitz of Troy, N.C. in 1951 and by 1954 they had moved to Chapel Hill. Together they raised three children. Before her death in 2005 after 54 years of marriage, they had traveled throughout Europe and Asia, and spent six months a year at their home in Pine Knoll Shores, Carteret County. Following her death, he donated the Charlotte Moscovitz Levin Social Hall at the synagogue. Later, he was the lead donor behind the building of the Charlotte and Dick Levin Jewish Community Center in 2011.
Levin continued to work part-time after retiring from UNC in the early 90s. He continued a lifelong interest in handyman work. He built additions to his Chapel Hill and Pine Knoll Shores homes, and installed everything from chairlifts and stairs to bookcases and fencing.
But he was most happy flying. For about 20 years each summer he'd fly himself and a friend to a fishing camp in Manitoba, Canada for a week of catching northern pike. On sunny days he'd fly with other friends to Virginia or South Carolina for lunch. He continued flying until July 2015.
Although he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1990 and had a prostatectomy that year, the cancer returned in 2014.
He is survived by two daughters, Deb Levin and Lisa Levin, both of Chapel Hill; a son, Steve, of Sonoma, Calif., and his wife, Layne; three grandchildren, Eric Lidji, Leah Freed and Miranda Day, of Cary; and two great-grandchildren Daniel and Zoey Freed.
Burial is private. A memorial service will be held 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15 at Judea Reform Congregation, 1933 W. Cornwallis Road, Durham. In lieu of flowers please make a donation to a favorite charity
Arrangements by Hudson Funeral Home, Durham.
Published by The Chapel Hill News & The News and Observer from Nov. 14 to Nov. 20, 2016.