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
"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 his life.
"He never retired, never even considered it," Don Richardson
said. "Slowing down, managing his energy and reducing office hours, yes.
But retiring? No."
Dr. Richardson, the widower of Sarah Sanders Richardson,
leaves another son, Darrell Coleman Richardson Jr. of Berwyn Heights,
Md., and a granddaughter.
- James Dowd