Joe and Michele Richey own and operate the Prairie Center of the Arts, an artist residency program in Peoria’s Warehouse District, as well as Tri-City Machine Products, a full-service machine shop that operates out of the same building. Joe holds a marketing degree from the University of Illinois and multiple master’s degrees from Bradley University, while Michele holds an accounting degree and master’s degree from Bradley, as well as CMA and CPA designations. The couple has long been active in the community, serving a range of organizations, from their shared alma mater to the Girl Scouts to ArtsPartners and many more. In 2014, they celebrated 55 years of marriage and jumpstarted the Prairie Center’s letterpress/book arts project, as well as Sculpture Walk Peoria.
- Favorite journey: We went with our daughter and son-in-law to France for 10 days in 2012. It was the trip of a lifetime. We traveled in the Normandy and Loire Valley region, with a four-day stay in Paris. The first day out, we stopped in a small village called Louvetot, the ancestral town of Joe’s family. We also went to the American Cemetery, and that was very moving.
- What persons have had the greatest impact on your lives?
Both of our mothers. The Depression years were hard on both families. Our mothers kept house and worked outside the home as bookkeepers. The biggest gift they gave us was the importance of hard work.
- Which historical person do you most admire?
Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. Both men exhibited courage in the face of opposition.
- When are you most productive?
Both of us love the morning. The mind is clear and you can get a lot done before the phone starts ringing and people start coming to work.
- What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Our parents were certain that only in America could you get a great education and make something of yourself. We truly believe people can still live the American dream with patience, fortitude and the understanding that the road to success, however you define it, is a messy process with a series of choices that have to be made.
- What is your motto?
Michele’s eighth-grade teacher was fond of saying, “Good better best; never let it rest until your good is better and your better best.”
- What social issue fires you up?
That all children have access to a superior education system.
- What are you most thankful for?
A wonderful family of six children and many grandchildren and good health, in that order.
- What trait do you most admire in others?
We like to see a strong work ethic.
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
We like to listen to classical, contemporary classical or new age music, and we enjoy researching our family history and watching Masterpiece Theatre. a&s