Nature 28

Eric S. Richards

August 17, 1961 ~ August 24, 2019 (age 58)


Eric S. Richards, aged 58, passed away, Saturday, August 24, 2019. 

Preceding his death, he was able to compose a letter to serve as his obituary.

One of the advantages of being diagnosed with a terminal illness is the chance to reflect upon your life and compose your own obituary. I was born into a wonderful family on August 17, 1961. My parents, Carl and Joan Richards, lovingly raised myself and my siblings; Carl, Suzanne, Bruce and Julie on the Northeast side of Grand Rapids, MI. We were blessed with grandparents who lived nearby and many aunts, uncles and cousins. Our family was all very close and our frequent gatherings were filled with joy. I attended nursery school at Second Congregational Church along with my life-long friend, Jim Murray and the girl who eventually became my wife, Karen Knott. I went on to become a Polar Bear at Creston High School and was designated “class skipper” of the class of ‘79. I cherish my schooldays and the friendships I formed, many of which became a lifelong bond. I grew up working in my father’s factory where I learned the value of hard work: “There’s no point in doing a half job, son.” I received an affordable education at “JC” and am proud to be a Grand Rapids Community College “Raider”. I transferred to Michigan State University where I earned a bachelor’s degree in history (cum laude) and a passion for Spartan Athletics. Unfortunately neither of these interests lead to a well paying job so I went to law school. At Wayne State University I learned to love law and thrived in my studies; graduating magna cum laude in 1986. I went on to serve as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Ralph B. Guy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. During this time I achieved my private pilots license and have enjoyed flying ever since. I then moved to Washington D.C. where I worked as an associate for the law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering. My heart was drawn back to Grand Rapids however when I became reacquainted with my nursery school chum, Karen Knott, at our ten year high school reunion. In 1991, I flew us up to Mackinac Island where we eloped at the Little Stone Church. For the next six years I worked with many fine attorneys at Warner Norcross & Judd and served as an adjunct professor at local colleges. My daughter Amelia was born in 1994, and my son Winston was born in 1996; they are the greatest joys of my life. I worked for the Honorable James D. Gregg of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Michigan and then in 1998 joined the law firm of Mika Meyers Beckett & Jones. I worked as a trial lawyer and specialized in commercial and securities arbitration (ie., I fought over money). I won my fair share of big cases which lead to professional recognitions, however the most meaningful parts of my work were the handshakes from clients who appreciated a job well done. Life is much more than work and my favorite pastimes included: aviation, downhill skiing, wind surfing, racquetball, canoeing, playing guitar, card games, having backyard campfires and walking our dogs. I also dedicated my service and time to The Cascade Planning Commission, Cascade Community Foundation, Scout Troop 334, Lawyers Pilot Bar Association, Federalist Society, Acton Institute, and was a student of OLLI classes through Aquinas College. I earned my black belt in Judo at age 48, but the real value of my experience learning from Sensei Stan Sochanek was the time spent with my son and the mentoring of so many more Judoka. That value is embedded in the Godai Judo Club, a non-profit club that I started with my friends, Mike Sanders and Jim Murray to help “at risk” kids learn discipline and self-respect through a martial art.  I’ve always been an avid reader and I treasure home cooked family meals, (particularly ones grilled and consumed on our beautiful back deck). Family has always been a core value for me and I am so grateful for the love and joy shared at so many “Richards Family Parties” over the years. I anticipate reuniting with family members who have passed before me and I leave my heart with all those who survive me. I regret never serving in the military, but am extremely proud to know that my son will be heading into flight school for the Air Force as a second lieutenant. I was able to walk my daughter down the aisle on June 29th of this year and I know that she and her husband, Joe Pruiett, have a very bright future ahead of them. For those who I may have wronged, please forgive me. For those who I have loved, please accept a profound gratitude for contributing to a joyful life. I want to thank my family, my kids, and my wonderful wife for standing by my side these past six years and a lifetime of love. Whether you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness or not, everyone has 100% mortality rate. It’s a part of life; but, you can make the best of the limited time you have left by being kind to others and cherishing the moments with your loved ones. Be of good courage. 


Visitation will be held on Wednesday August 28, 5-7pm at the Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Home 4291 Cascade Rd SE Grand Rapids, MI 49546. Funeral Services will be held on Thursday August 29, 10:30am at Cascade Christian Church 2829 Thornapple Drive SE Grand Rapids, MI 49546. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Godai Judo Club. Please mail donations to Godai Judo Club c/o Jim Murray 5091 Streamside Ct. NE Rockford, MI 49341

The family would like to express their eternal gratitude to Hospice of Holland for their service, compassion and kindness to Eric and ourselves over the past six months.

To send flowers to Eric's family, please visit our floral section.


August 28, 2019

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Service
4291 Cascade Road SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Funeral Service
August 29, 2019

10:30 AM
Cascade Christian Church
2829 Thornapple River Drive SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546

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