Richardson funeral

Thousands mourn Charles Richardson

Former Tupelo personnel

director touched people through work, church and civic activities.

By Errol Castens

Daily Journal

They came by the hundreds, then by the thousands, and they didn’t quit arriving until the Ramada Convention Center was full.

They came to mourn and to remember Charles Richardson, the former City of Tupelo personnel director who was stabbed to death Tuesday morning.

And they came to be reassured.

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” asked one minister, quoting from the Book of Romans. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”

Richardson’s impact on his lifelong community was evident in the many eulogies offered and in the private conversations that surrounded his funeral.

“He had such an humble spirit, always willing to help,” one speaker said. “There was something on the inside that was working on the outside.”

“He was a very generous, giving person,” echoed Richardson’s friend Tommy Gray of St. Louis outside the packed auditorium. “Always had a smile on his face.”

“He helped people, black and white, and he worked for the Lord,” said Grenatie Bails of Ripley, a second cousin to Richardson. “He was just a giving kind of person. Everybody loved him.”

The outpouring of grief was so overwhelming at times that several mourners had to be helped out of the service to recover.

The deceased civic and religious leader’s impact on his community also was witnessed by the litany of positions he held. In addition to having founded and sung in the popular Lane Chapel Men’s Quartet/Quintet, Richardson had served as choir director, Sunday School superintendent and in several other local and regional positions in Lane Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and its parent denomination. His civic engagements included a host of area charities and service organizations from the United Way of Northeast Mississippi and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency to the Haven Acres Neighborhood Improvement Project. Numerous speakers mentioned the void his death would leave in the community.

“He built for his church,” said Robert Copeland. “He built for his community. He built for the socially and economically disadvantaged.”

Another speaker summed up Richardson’s 47-year life by quoting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.: “It is not how long we live, but how well we live.”

Richardson’s accused killer, Derrick Walker, 20, of 2818 Beasley Dr., Tupelo, was arrested in West Memphis, Ark., and remains in the Lee County-Tupelo Adult Jail on $2 million bond.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Charlston Richardson Trust Fund, c/o Ann Robinson, The People Bank and Trust Co., P.O. Box 709, Tupelo, MS 38802.