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Obituary: Wolfgang Richter of LGB

By Terry Thompson
Published: November 28, 2012

Wolfgang Richter, longtime co-owner and general manager of toymaker E.P. Lehmann and co-developer (with his brother Eberhard) of LGB trains, passed away on Nov. 21. He was 84 years old.

The Richter brothers introduced their G-scale trains in 1968, reviving interest in No. 1 gauge trains. From the beginning, they intended the trains to be used outdoors as well as indoors, and the weather-resistant quality of the trains was the catalyst for the development of the garden railway hobby as it is known today. It was under Richter's leadership that Lehmann went from being a small toymaker that specialized in tin toys to one of the world’s largest model train manufacturers.

Richter's own irrepressible good humor and signature “thumbs-up” gesture became trademarks of the brand, and were every bit as well known as the firm's colorful red-and-green boxes. He was also known for the joy he took in talking with his customers and for his policy that LGB would offer high-quality products, even in starter sets. His philosophy was that the person who purchased an LGB train was joining the LGB family, and he made sure to treat his customers accordingly. That led to a very high degree of enthusiasm and brand loyalty among LGB customers in the U.S. and around the world.

In his later years Richter passed the leadership of Lehmann on to his son Rolf (also deceased) and nephew Johannes, but he continued to serve as the brand’s chief ambassador and elder statesman until Lehmann’s 2006 bankruptcy (and eventual acquisition by Märklin).

A leader in the industry and a member of the model railroad industry hall of fame, Wolfgang was a kind, intelligent and thoughtful gentleman. Thousands of LGB model railroaders will miss him.