The death is announced of the Rev. Dr. Walter D. Richards, former Deputy Minister of Education, former principal of Ricks Institute in Virginia, former president of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention and former Chairman of the Board of the Baptist Theological Seminary.
This sad event occurred on Friday, May 29, 2015 in his sleep at his home in the Jallah Prall compound on Broad Street, Snapper Hill, Monrovia. He was in his 84th year.
Rev. Richards was also instrumental in the coming to Liberia of the Liberia Opportunities Industrial Corporation, which trained thousands of Liberians in many technical and vocational trades.
He was also a founding member of the Liberian Council of Churches (LCC) and a member of the Inter-faith Council, later named the Inter Religious Council, which in 1990 intervened along with Roman Catholic Archbishop Michael K. Francis, Sheikh Kafumba Konneh, Canon Burgess Carr and others to help stop the Liberia civil war.
Rev. Richards was also former pastor of Brewerville’s Salem Baptist Church and Clay Ashland’s First Baptist Church. He served both churches for extensive periods. A powerful Baptist preacher, his sermons often incurred the wrath of the Samuel Doe government. Indeed, when soldiers loyal to Doe entered the Richards family’s native Clay Ashland one afternoon in June, 1990, they went looking for Rev. Walter Richards, but mistook his brother, the eminent Liberian sculptor R. Vanjah Richards for Pastor Richards.
The soldiers arrested R. Vanjah, beheaded him and threw his body into the Po River on the Bomi Hills highway.
Family sources say Rev. Walter Richards was on his knees in a state of prayer when at between 12 and 1 o’clock p.m. on Friday, May 29, 2015, the household staff went to his room. By that time he had already answered his eternal summons.
His wife Mrs. Ora Gibson Richards and their children are in the United States of America. They are due in Monrovia shortly for the funeral.
Walter Dossen Richards was born on August 24, 1931. His father was the Rev. David Richards, long time pastor of First Baptist Church, Clay Ashland and former Senator of Montserrado County.
Walter’s two brothers, R. Vanjah and the eminent Liberian architect Winston D. Richards, like Walter himself, were all born the same year, 1931.
A graduate of the University of Liberia, Walter began his career in eduction as principal of the Student Union at the foot of Benson Street on Crown Hill, Monrovia. The school was run by the Liberia National Students Union (LINSU).
He later became the private secretary to the Vice President of Liberia, Dr. William R. Tolbert. It was Dr. Tolbert who sent Walter to the United States for further studies. He obtained a Master’s degree in Divinity and Religious Education.
He was twice married, first to a Brooks lady from Harper, Maryland County, to which union a son was born. Walter later wedded Ms. Ora Gibson Richard and to this union several children were born.
His brothers R. Vahnjah Richards and Winston D. Richards predeceased him.
He leaves to mourn his loss his wife, Ora G. Richards, his children Audrey Catherine Richards, Julius Wilfred Richards Sr., Walter David Richards, William Fred Cooper, Ingrid Martha Richards, David Sherman, Walter D. Richards, Jr., Warren Dean Richards and Hadiya Richards; 15 grand children; his sisters Bendu Moore and Louise Richards; nieces, nephews and a host of other family and friends.
The Home-Going Events are as follow:
June 26, 2015 – 1-3 p.m. Prayer Service & Viewing at Providence Baptist Church, Monrovia
June 26, 2015 5 p.m. – Wake Keeping at Salem Baptist Church, Brewerville
(All Tributes Will Be Done At The Wake Keeping Except For Immediate Family, Churches, Liberia Baptist Convention, LOIC and Official Tributes)
June 27, 2015
9 a.m. – Viewing at First Baptist Church, Clay Ashland
11 a.m. – Funeral Service & Burial at First Baptist Church, Clay Ashland
Repast Immediately Following Internment.