New Leaf Mourns Passing of CEO Rich Bellezza
October 10, 2002

It is with deepest sorrow that New Leaf Distributing Company announces the passing of Rich Bellezza, CEO and general manager. Rich, who proudly served as New Leaf’s "treasurer, alchemist and fertilizer" died Saturday, Oct. 5, in Douglasville, Ga., after a long battle with a rare blood disease.

He leaves to mourn and celebrate his life, a loving wife, Denise Adams; three children, Adam, Alicia and Julia; his mother; three brothers and four sisters, including longtime New Leaf employee Fran Bellezza; his New Leaf family; and a host of friends around the world.

Rich came to New Leaf in 1981, six years after the company’s modest beginning as a distributor of literature for the alternative health and New Age market in Atlanta. Rich joked that "the 80-hour week for $80 was so simple it was appealing." He started out as the nuts-and-bolts general manager of daily operations and soon became CFO, assuming the role of CEO upon the retirement of New Leaf’s founder Alim Thompson in 1994. Rich oversaw the growth of the company as it became one of the most dynamic forces in the New Age industry. In 1995 Rich was instrumental in New Leaf’s move to its permanent home on five acres of land in Lithia Springs, Ga. That same year Atlanta Business Chronicle recognized New Leaf as one of the fastest growing companies in Atlanta and presented Rich with its Gazelle Award.

Rich was wholeheartedly committed to New Leaf’s mission of "providing informational material and related items that foster learning, personal awakening, spiritual growth and healing in ourselves and others." Known for his soft-spoken nature and big heart, he was respected and loved by many. Because he took such a personal interest in the lives of his 90-plus employees, he was affectionately referred to around New Leaf as "Papa Rich."

A memorial service was held Tuesday, Oct. 8, in Douglasville. The service began with the singing of one of Rich’s favorite songs—John Lennon’s "Imagine." It was a wonderful tribute to this man who was "a dreamer." And with his optimism and life force, Rich dared to live the dream to the fullest. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Rich’s name to Douglas County Habitat for Humanity, P.O. Box 2211, Douglasville, Ga. 30133 (770-489-8883).

For more information, contact NEW LEAF DISTRIBUTING, Attn: Alim Thompson, 401 Thornton Road, Lithia Springs, GA 30122. 770.948.7845 (office phone). E-mail: website:

Copyright 2004 New Leaf Distributing Company