Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Flint Profiles: Don Richards

I was saddened to learn today that Flint Expatriate Don Richards died in February. I met Don through this blog, and he passed along many great stories about Flint. He graciously helped fill me in on the history of Civic Park and a host of other topics when I was researching and writing Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City. There were times when I was left wondering "Who the hell would know the answer to this?" And it was often Don who came up with the information, passing it along in phone conversations and long email exchanges. He extended a lot of kindness to me over the past few years. Even though we never actually met in person, I consider him a friend. He will be missed.

Here is a portion of Don's obituary, written by his daughter, Tara:
Don, the brother of five, was a 1966 graduate of Flint Northern High School. After high school, Don enlisted in the U.S. Army where he became an ammunition specialist, and was honorably discharged in 1969. In civilian life, he became a Registered Land Surveyor (a trade he learned while in the Army), working at several of the large firms in Genesee, Oakland, and Wayne counties; he also had a brief stint with owning his own surveying company
Throughout his life, he actively worked on projects of an historical nature. He enjoyed researching, and re-telling, history through Surveying. In particular, he loved to write about Genesee County, and was an accomplished writer on various blogs, local publications, and was working on a book.

Don was also a self-taught guitar player, with a vast appreciation for music, and enjoyed tuning out the rest of the world in favor of a great song and a nice buzz. He ran the Crim 10-mile road race for twelve consecutive years, and dabbled in ballroom dancing, where he met his future wife, Jan. 


  1. Thank you, Gordon, for the very kind words about my Father. He would have loved it! - Tara

  2. I never met Don either but I'd become very fond of him through his comments here and his reactions over time to my column in East Village Magazine. He always got my jokes and appreciated my attempts at wit. I am really sad that he's gone. Just a couple of weeks before he died, we swapped messages all evening long one Friday with a couple of other friends of his after the death of Dave Brubeck. We were all listening to our favorite cuts and mourning and sending elegies back and forth. For some reason that evening really stays in my mind and heart -- it seemed like we were all alone in our various houses feeling bad about Dave Brubeck, but not alone. He was a great guy.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at