On Monday, June 29, 2020 at Ouachita Medical Center in Camden, Arkansas, our Lord and Savior came swiftly and quickly claimed one of His faithful servants, Leon Richard Jr. To God be the glory -- he is now free from his pain and suffering.
Leon Richard Jr. was born on March 23, 1941 in Arcadia, LA to dedicated Christian parents, Leon Sr. and Katie Patton Richard. He was a member of the Harmony Baptist Church in Arcadia. In 1959, Leon graduated from Crawford High School in Arcadia and later received a bachelor of science from Grambling College (later known as Grambling State University) in Grambling, LA. He was a U.S. Army veteran.
His teaching and coaching career began at Bradley High School in Bradley, AR where he met Odie Carter who became his bride on August 24, 1968. After two years at Bradley, he accepted a teaching/coaching position at Stamps High School in Stamps for two years as well. His relocation to Stephens in 1971 proved to be one of the most fruitful and grandiose decisions of his life -- he repositioned his wife to her hometown, became a member of the St. Stephens Baptist Church family, and accepted employment in the Stephens School District as teacher and coach of the Stephens Roadrunners for many years. One of his greatest accomplishments as coach was the 1976-1977 Class A Basketball State Championship at Stephens. After retirement, Leon returned to Stephens High School as Dean of Students. After two years as dean, he once again retired to enjoy his hobbies of fishing and gardening, as well as other tasks as required.
Coach Richard was a Christian man, full of the Holy Spirit, and was an asset to any community. He was a servant leader, and the fruit of his labor was certainly evident and impactful in the Stephens community. At St. Stephens, he served as an avid Sunday School teacher, trustee, janitor, usher, campus maintenance, Sunday School superintendent, and Male Chorus member. His love for Sunday School demanded that he “studied to show himself approved” rightly dividing the Word of God to those he taught. He also served at our neighboring church, St. James A.M.E., in whatever capacity he was needed.
In the Stephens community, Coach was a mentor and advisor. The players on his teams respected him as a strict disciplinarian in an affectionate way. He was their navigator for dress code, grooming, and conduct. He demanded that their grades and their conduct on campus as well as in the community met a certain standard which prepared them for life. He coached the Stephens Roadrunners in a manner that catapulted and prepared them for manhood and for life. His leadership prepared many young men for fatherhood, community service, community leaders, and again -- for life.
Coach shared a 52-year union with his devoted wife, Odie Carter Richard, and this merger yielded two sons, Kerwin and Kironde Richard. He was preceded in death by his parents; one son, Kerwin Richard; two brothers, Willie Richard and Herman Richard; and three sisters, Mildred Richard, Ossie Lee Glover, and Clara Mae Richard.
Survivors who will share loving and precious memories of Coach Richard are his loving wife, Odie Mae Richard of Stephens; son, Kironde (Jessica) Richard of Stephens; two grandsons, Chauncy and Dredan Richard; two great-grandsons, JaBari and Chaston Richard; two step-grandchildren, Delicia McBride and Derrick McBride Jr.; two step great-grandchildren, De-Nasiah Edwards and Dameon Manning II; sister-in-law, Voncile Richard; three special friends, Artis Quinn Moore, L.C. Adair and Lorris Brown; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, relatives and friends.
Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. Sunday, July 5, 2020 at Gatlin Cemetery in McNeil.
The Rev. Hope will be the clergyman.