Mr. Joseph G. Richards, former deputy minister for administration at the Ministry of Lands, Mines & Energy, died Wednesday, August 5, 2015 at his Coconut Plantation residence in Monrovia.
He was 89.
Mr. Richards’ activities spanned a period of 25 years with the Government of Liberia, from 1952 to 1984, with the absence of six years during which he pursued farming, real estate and transportation activities.
Born unto the union of Senator John G. A. Richards and Matilda Roberts Howard Richards in 1926, he completed elementary and high school at the College of West Africa in 1945. He went to the United States in 1946 and graduated from the University of Utah as a mining engineer and returned home in December 1951.
He joined Arthur Sherman and Arthur Massaquoi in a four room complex known as the Bureau of Mines under the then Treasury Department. There, he was instrumental in the growth of the bureau from that nucleus to a full ministry. Richards played a key role in the development of all avenues of the ministry such as mining, geology, hydrology, cartography, energy, among others, and trained dozens of employees, six of which became ministers.
He organized and implemented the formation of the General Services Agency and served as its first director general in 1971 and resigned in 1973. He refused several other portfolios with the government. “Because I felt that they were not challenging enough,” he later said, until December 1976 when he accepted to bring into fruition The Liberian Industrial Free Zone Authority, (LIFZA). It was an industrial complex that was export oriented, revenue generating, technology transfer, and provided employment from 1976-1980, when the coup d’état’ (of 1980) ended LIFZA’s progress.
After the coup d’état’ of 1980, the Doe administration asked him to help at the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy and he served as deputy managing director for administration till he resigned in 1984.
Among many other capacities, the late Mr. Richards served as past District Governor, Rotary International; charter member and past President of the Monrovia Rotary Club; past President, Liberian Society of Engineers; past President, Liberia Rubber Planters Association; past Chairman, Liberia Rubber Institute; Chairman, Executive Committee, YMCA; past Lay Reader, First United Methodist Church (Monrovia); Chairman, board of trustees, The Liberia Methodist Annual Conference; and Deputy Grand Master of Masons, Grand Lodge of Liberia.
He was a longstanding football enthusiast and the first captain of Invincible Eleven Majestic Sports Association. He leaves to mourn his wife of 65 years, Mrs. Anna Sherman Richards, the union of which was blessed with several children, including Carl Francis Richards, Marbue Richards, the eldest son; and sisters Wiyata, Joan Richards Abrams and Mrs. Dawn Richards Tolbert. He was a leading member of the First United Methodist Church.
Funeral arrangements will be announced later, a family source told the Daily Observer yesterday.