Funeral services for Claude Edward “Eddie” Richards, 83, West Plains, Missouri, will be held at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, March 21, 2020 at First Christian Church, West Plains, Missouri, under the direction of Robertson-Drago Funeral Home.
Mr. Richards passed away 9:40 a.m., Saturday, March 7, 2020, at Ozarks Medical Center.
He was born April 10, 1936, at West Plains, Missouri, to Claude Earnest Richards and Edna Hill Richards. He received his elementary and high school education in West Plains, graduating from West Plains High School in 1953, where he was one of the most recognized athletes in West Plains history. Eddie participated in football, basketball, track, baseball and golf. He was the only athlete to ever letter in five sports in a single season. In the fall of 1953, Eddie enrolled at the University of Missouri and graduated in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in business. He was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, where he established many close friendships that lasted his entire life. He was also a member of the University of Missouri Tigers basketball team for his four years in college, which remained an important part of his life and developed his avid love of Tiger sports. After graduating college, he entered the United States Army and was stationed at Fort Chaffee in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He was honorably discharged in 1959. It was during this period that he met the love of his life, Coretta Thomas. They were married on September 19, 1959 and were happily married for sixty years. They had two children, John and Laura. He returned to West Plains and joined the family business, Richards Brothers, where he worked his entire life. Eddie took over the feed and farm division of Richards Brothers and grew it into one of the area’s leaders in agriculture. Under his guidance, Richards Brothers became one of the most recognized dealerships for Purina Mills and was awarded as a top dealership many times. His work was more than business to him, as he took a genuine interest in his customers, many of which became close friends. Eddie loved being at the feed store every day, seeing customers and friends and keeping active in the business. Eddie was an active supporter of many local organizations and believed in always helping the community grow and prosper. He was a lifetime member of the Heart of the Ozarks Fair Board and served as president multiple times; he was a strong believer that the county fair was not only a showcase for our local farmers but a real community event to be shared by everyone. He was a key organizer of the National Feeder Pig Show. He served as President of the West Plains Country Club and served on the board of directors of West Plains Bank and Trust Company. Eddie was a Shriner and a Mason for over fifty years. Mr. Richards supported many organizations, but was especially fond of those that promoted youth activities, such as FFA. He was an avid sportsman who enjoyed a wide variety of activities, including water skiing, boating, field trails and of course, basketball. However, you could mostly find him pursuing his two favorite pastimes, golf and quail hunting. Eddie had an outstanding career in amateur golf playing in many tournaments, including the Missouri Amateur and Senior Amateur and was the West Plains Country Club men’s champion multiple times. His joy of quail hunting established a special relationship with his many hunting dogs over the years and they would spend long afternoons together out in the quail fields. In his later years, Eddie became active in deer and turkey hunting. He bought a “farm” in the 1980’s to pursue his hunting passions and one of the real joys in life was spending time on his farm and working on it; it became a special place to him and he loved having friends and family join him there and would spend hours showing off the work he had done there. Eddie loved spending time with his friends and family; he was a true believer in enjoying life and sharing those moments with the people he loved. His favorite holiday was Christmas and he always believed it was a special time for his family to be together. He was very proud of his family. He took pride in watching his two children grow up and for the last several years the real joy of his life was his two granddaughters and watching them grow and being able to be a part of their lives.
He is survived by his wife, Coretta, West Plains; his son, John Richards, West Plains; and daughter, Laura Parker and husband, Steve; Kansas City; two granddaughters, Jessica and Anna Parker, Kansas City; his sister, Dorothy Alexa and husband, Jay, Harrison, Arkansas; sister-in-law, Claudine Richards, Kansas City; and many cousins, nieces and nephews.
His parents, one brother, Lynn Richards and several aunts, uncles and cousins, preceded him in death.
Mr. Richards will lie in state from 5:00 until 9:00 p.m., Friday, March 20, 2020, at Robertson-Drago Funeral Home. Burial will be in the Oak Lawn Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to The Boys & Girls Club of West Plains or OMC Foundation and may be left at Robertson-Drago Funeral Home. Online condolences may be expressed at www.robertsondrago.com.