DR. DARRELL COLEMAN RICHARDSON
An Obituary by James
Photo Courtesy of Dennis McHaney
Darrell Coleman Richardson inhabited a world delightfully similar to
the ones depicted in the pulp fiction novels he loved: bold, brilliant
and bursting with adventure.
Dr. Richardson's life included chapters as college athlete, Army chaplain,
Baptist preacher, author, editor and Boy Scout leader. Along the way he
amassed an extensive Edgar Rice Burroughs collection and became pals with
onscreen Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller. And while stationed in West Germany,
Dr. Richardson met Elvis Presley when the young soldier got out of a jeep
and stepped on the chaplain's foot.
"He was bigger than life," said longtime friend Greg Bridges. "Some
people have too many irons in the fire because they don't know what to
do with them. Not Dr. Richardson. He used every one he had."
Dr. Richardson died Tuesday after a long illness. He was 88. Born in
Baxter Springs, Kan., Dr. Richardson grew up in Missouri. He earned a football
scholarship to Furman University, where he lettered in that sport as an
offensive and defensive lineman, as well as basketball and track.
"Dad loved the outdoors, he loved the environment and he loved being
active," said son and collaborator Don Richardson of Memphis. "He
was just amazingly active, physically and mentally."
Dr. Richardson was an ordained minister and pastored churches in Kentucky
and served as director of Camp Ridgecrest in North Carolina. He moved to
Memphis in the late '60s to become editor of the Brotherhood Commission
of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Dr. Richardson co-founded the Memphis Science Fiction & Fantasy
Association; that organization's "Darrell Awards" are presented annually
to published regional writers of fantasy, horror and science fiction.
A couple of years ago he established Old Tiger Press with friend Dennis
McHaney, specializing in science fiction-related volumes. "He was a prolific
writer and quite a character," McHaney said. "He was interested in so many
things and knowledgeable about so much that it's almost impossible to describe
him, but he'll be greatly missed."
A passion for collecting led Dr. Richardson to search the globe for
rare books and items of Burroughs and other pulp fiction writers, as well
as the works of fantasy artists such as J. Allen St. John. He eventually
acquired more than 80,000 items and continued to research and write throughout
"He never retired, never even considered it," Don Richardson said. "Slowing
down, managing his energy and reducing office hours, yes. But retiring?
Dr. Richardson, the widower of Sarah Sanders Richardson, leaves another
son, Darrell Coleman Richardson Jr. of Berwyn Heights, Md., and a
- James Dowd