Vernon Lee Richards, age 89, former mayor of Smithville, was born in Kirtley, Texas on July 18, 1929 to Albert and Esther Richards. He passed away on August 30, 2018 in Smithville, Texas.
He was preceded in death by his father and mother and his brothers Herbert Lee and Wilford Richards. Vernon is survived by his wife, Dorothy, whom he was married to for 70 years (September 4, 1948), his son Randy Richards (wife Lisa)and his daughter Susan Adamson (husband Reid). He is also survived by his grandchildren: Austen Richards, Corbin Richards (wife April), Cameron Adamson, Hilary Adamson Babbitt (husband Eric), Alex Winter and Austin Winter. He had two great grandchildren: Colton Richards and Paige Babbitt.
Vernon was employed by Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in Galveston, Texas in 1948. He served in numerous positions for 38 years, living in Galveston, Texas City, Brazosport, Houston, San Antonio and Austin. At the time of his retirement in 1986 he held the position of Division Marketing Manager in Austin, Texas.
He was passionate about community service. Vernon was an active citizen in all communities where he lived and was recognized as Outstanding Citizen of the Year in Texas City, Brazosport and Smithville, Texas during his lifetime. His many past achievements include President of the Optimist Club in both Texas City and Brazosport, President of the Chamber of Commerce in both Brazosport and Smithville, Lieutenant Governor of Optimist International in both Brazosport and San Antonio, President of Brazosport Community Hospital Board, President of Alamo Round-Up Club of San Antonio and Chairman of the Board of Alamo Heights United Methodist Church in San Antonio. While living in Houston, he was appointed to a Special Task Force -City Of Houston Traffic Ticket Study by Mayor Louie Welch.
At the time of his retirement, he returned to his native Smithville and was elected to the City Council. Two years later, he was elected as Mayor of Smithville for 10 years. He was a Director of Smithville Savings and Loan and an Advisory Director of First National Bank, President of Texas Municipal League Region 10, President of the Smithville Lion’s Club, President of U.T. Cancer Research Center Board of Friends and Associate Lay Leader of First United Methodist Church of Smithville. Vernon was also very active on The Smithville Hospital Board. As mayor, he was responsible for the building of the Smithville Recreation Center which serves families in the community.
On December 15, 1994, in coordination with the City of Smithville, Lower Colorado River Authority and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, The Vernon L. Richards Riverbend Park was dedicated. This park is on the banks of the Colorado River outside Smithville on Hwy 71. The park includes walking trails, a fishing pier, covered stage and dance floor and campsites. It hosts The Annual Smithville Jamboree and Smithville Music Festival, as well as other events year round.
On September 5, 1997, Vernon was presented the American Hometown Leadership Award for Smithville, Texas in Washington, DC. This award recognized outstanding leaders whose community service exhibits the highest standards of dedication. It was awarded by the National Center for Small Communities.
A Celebration Of Life will be held Saturday, September 22 at 11 am at The First United Methodist Church in Smithville. Following the service, a luncheon is planned to be enjoyed by everyone in the family center.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to The Virginia Harris Cockrell Cancer Research Center at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer City (Science Park at Smithville, Texas) or First United Methodist Church of Smithville in his memory.