By Will Johnson
GRAPELAND – Once in a while you hear the phrase that someone shaped a generation. That was not Jerry Richards. Coach Richards shaped an entire town.
Multiple generations of the Grapeland community were molded into the people they are today because of him. Not just a family here and there, but anyone who attended Grapeland ISD since disco dominated the radio crossed his path and his sphere of caring.
From Pre-K right on through high school, coach taught us how to play fair, how to handle a loss and how to celebrate a victory while still respecting those we defeated. To be honest, those first lessons in kickball may have been tougher than some of the later ones learned on the gridiron.
Football, basketball, baseball, you name it, and Coach Richards taught us the fundamentals of all of them. His love of football was only surpassed by his love of golf. And boy did he love golf. His passion for the links was evidenced by his phenomenal record over the years.
Everyone has a Coach Richards story. This quiet, soft- spoken man commanded the respect of all he came in contact with. His selective hearing aside – he always claimed to have trouble hearing but still managed to hear and respond to a whispered comment at the back of the bus – no matter how loud things got. And when he spoke, everyone listened.
As the bus driver for many sporting events, well, let’s not focus on that. We all have memories of one of Coach’s “short-cuts” that all ended safely but went through some very strange areas. Every single one of those stories brings a smile. Maybe not on purpose, but Jerry Richards was a man who was not afraid to venture down the road less traveled!
Jerry Richards loved his community. He and Cindy supported it every opportunity they got. Cake auctions, band concerts, post-graduation events and tournaments, Coach Richards was always there, cheering on one of his many, many kids.
Now is a time to thank Cindy, Clay and Ty for sharing so much of their time with their husband and father with us. While we, as a community, cannot erase your loss, we can share in a portion of your grief. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Richards family during this time. And I’m sure Possum (aka Coach Richards) with his arms crossed and a twinkle in his eye, is waiting to tee it up on a heavenly course.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.