SF State accounting professor Richard Embusch dies at 69

CORRECTION: We incorrectly identified Richard Henry Embusch as an economics professor. He was a professor in the accounting department.

By Chris Embusch, Special to Xpress

My father, Richard Henry Embusch, a dedicated professor of the SF State accounting department for 23 years and auditor for the IRS, died April 2 from esophageal cancer. He was 69 years old.

Professor Embusch’s students knew him as a rigorous instructor of accounting who cared for his students’ futures. As tough a subject as accounting is, he tried to explain things in the simplest terms in order for every student to understand.

He was very much concerned about his students’ careers after college and encouraged all business majors to not just pass their accounting requirements, but truly learn the subject in order to stand out in an increasingly competitive job market. He was always willing to answer questions both in class and during office hours.

He taught hundreds of students over the years at SF State. Many of them even went to work with him at the IRS after graduation.

As one of his three children, I had the privilege learning from him throughout my entire life. Most have no idea of the struggle that makes his story inspiring beyond his lessons in the classroom.

He was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 23, 1942 and raised by his parents, both immigrants from Germany, who spoke very little English. He worked at his father’s delicatessen and dedicated himself to school in order to rise out of his poor neighborhood and go onto college.

His studies were interrupted by the Vietnam War, where he served as a lieutenant in the Army. He was fortunate to survive the violence around him and make it home safely. After arriving back in the states with a new appreciation for life, he worked hard to complete his MBA and pass his CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exam.

His unrelenting curiosity fueled his quest for knowledge throughout his life. He enrolled in community college nearly every semester, taking Russian, law, and automotive courses. During each class, he was not afraid to ask questions if he didn’t fully understand something. Even outside the classroom, his curiosity led him to read many books on philosophy, religion, and science. He also found time to relax his mind with gardening and yoga.

Those who knew him had the privilege of hearing his dry humor and honest opinions. He enjoyed telling jokes and finding humor in everything. Even when exchanging ideas about controversial topics in heated debate, it would always end with humor and laughter. Not one to mince words, he was always straightforward and honest with his opinions. If you were not honest with him as well, he would not hesitate to call you on it.

He excelled at nearly everything he did, including being a good father. He was a loving and caring provider who always found time for his children despite working long hours at two jobs. I would often see him come home exhausted, but never once heard him complain. I remember him pushing me, my brother, and my sister to take challenging courses and never avoid hard work.

Above all else, he loved to teach. Whether it was in the classroom with his students, or at home with me and my siblings, he always tried to educate those around him. His standards were high, but not impossible. He believed in constant self improvement through overcoming hardship. He saw the potential inside the students who struggled and encouraged them to work hard to achieve their goal of passing.

My father would often say, “Accounting is not a spectator sport. You need to get your hands dirty and put in the work.”

He lived all aspects of his life this way, and his spirit will live on through the students who learned so much from him.