Richard S. Thall was a member of the Lehigh University Class of 1955 and in the pre-med/pre-dental program before entering New York University (NYU) to earn his dental degree. As an undergraduate at Lehigh, he served as president of Pi Lambda Phi and was a member of the Interfraternity Council. After graduating from NYU in 1958, he fulfilled his selective service duty and served two years in the Air Force in Athens, Greece, as the base dentist in the ranks of first lieutenant and captain. While in private practice after the military, Richard returned to NYU and earned his orthodontic degree and began a lifelong career as an orthodontist.
Always knowing that he and his wife, Alice, would want to give back to Lehigh to provide others with the same opportunity that he received, they established a student scholarship fund in their namesake in 1984 for students to obtain a Lehigh education in the arts and sciences. When the Lehigh University Art Galleries/Museum Operations opened new galleries in 1997 as part of the Zoellner Arts Center, they thought of their personal art collection as another way to add to the student experience.
Avid collectors of fine art for more than five decades, their interests ranged from lithographs by Stuart Davis to engraved prints by John Sloan, George Bellows, and Whistler. They began collecting photography by artists Aaron Siskind, Richard Misrach, and Ansel Adams before most of mainstream America began considering this mode of creative expression as a form of art. Since their first donation of artwork to Lehigh in 2004, the Thalls have provided fine art photography prints by Siskind and Misrach, among others, to the teaching collection of the university. As an academic art museum, the collection offers students from all disciplines direct experiential learning to explore diverse topics in visual literacy and the humanities. Richard and Alice also support the art gallery’s program development fund, including a recent contribution to upgrade its website.
The Thalls are members of the top giving societies at Lehigh University ⎯ the Tower Society and the Asa Packer Society. Respected for his expansive knowledge of fine art, Richard is a board member of Brattleboro Museum and Art Center in Vermont.
The Thall family is a three-generation legacy family with their daughter, Diana ’87, their son-in-law, Craig Levin ’87, and their two grandchildren, Jenny ’15 and Matthew ’18, all Lehigh proud. Richard and Alice live in New York and Vermont.