Mr. Leroy Richardson, Sr., the eldest son of the late James Roy and Corine Kutura Ellis Richardson, departed this life on Tuesday, August 6, 2019. He was born on December 6, 1926, and lived in Greenville, South Carolina. He was a longtime member of Tabernacle Baptist Church where he served as Deacon Emeritus and previously served on the Usher Board. He loved God and prayed faithfully every day.
Often referred to as a good man, a legend and a giant among men, Leroy led an extraordinaire life of ninety-two years. He earned many titles such as son, brother, husband, daddy, granddaddy, “Pa Pa”, great granddad, great-great grandfather, uncle, cousin, friend, healer, civil rights pioneer and veteran. He was known for his easy smile, quick wit, beautiful spirit and caring heart. Leroy was widely respected and well-liked by all who encountered him.
Leroy was blessed with longevity genes coming from a long line of Ellis family members living well into their senior years. His mother, grandmother and great grandfathers were octogenarian and nonagenarians during a time when the average life expectancy was less than half those years. He enhanced his genetic blessings with hard work resulting in good health and phenomenal memory until the end.
Leroy was a man’s man who believed it was his responsibility to protect and provide for his family. He believed in working hard and enjoying a strong drink and good food. He loved watching games of his favorite teams, the Clemson Tigers and New York Yankees. Leroy was a master storyteller with endless stories, a wonderful sense of humor and a resilient spirit. Despite never having the opportunity to finish grade school, he and his wife, Jessie, ensured that all eleven of their children had the gift of education. Their encouragement and sometimes, insistency, resulted in their children achieving specialized training, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in a variety of careers.
Working since he was a young boy to assist his family during times of financial adversity, Leroy held a number of jobs, many at the same time. However, Leroy was best known as one the longest serving YMCA employees. He retired from his beloved Y in 2018 after a 68 year career as a masseuse. His famous ‘rub downs’ were a fixture at the “Y” through the decades even having generations of regulars to request his healing hands.
Leroy was recently honored for his pioneering military service as a famed Montford Point Marine serving at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina during World War II. In 2012, President Obama recognized these Marines with the Congressional Gold Medal for their service to the nation as the first African-Americans to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. True to his humble nature, when he heard about the honor, he remarked that he had not done anything special enough to deserve the recognition. The Montford Point Marine Association and the Office of U.S. Congressman William Timmons (SC-4) facilitated his receiving the long overdue medal in a special ceremony earlier this year. He was so happy and proud to receive the honor.
Leroy was the Richardson family patriarch and his presence will be sorely missed. He is survived by five daughters, Veader (Alvin) Boyd of Silver Springs, MD, Carpee R. Hall of Greenville, SC, Kenia Richardson of Houston, TX, Erica (Friedman) Patton of Greenville, SC and Jessie (Joseph) Hood of Atlanta, GA; two sons, Raymonte (Sharon) Richardson and Derrick (Gloria) Richardson, both of Greenville, SC; a loving brother, Billy Richardson of Greenville, SC; devoted sister-in-law, Sheila (James) Thompson of Greenville, SC; twenty-two grandchildren; forty plus great-grandchildren; ten great-great grandchildren; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 44 years, Jessie Mae Goodwin Richardson; three daughters, Beverly Thornton, Arthea Earl and Pilar Richardson; his oldest son, Leroy, Jr. ; two sisters, Mary Kate and Irene; two brothers, Benny Fred and Oscar Thomas, and a great-great-grandson, Luther, Jr.
Leroy will be profoundly missed, forever loved and never forgotten.