The Blue Devil Nation lost a loyal member when the Rev. J. Earl Richardson passed away at Croasdaile Village on May 9, 2020.
He was born on February 11, 1918 in rural Moore County to the late John L. and Mattie B. Richardson. Earl was, by his own admission, a vivacious and over-talkative child with a passion for his pony, Nancy.
At 102 years of age, Earl was the oldest member of the NC Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Born with a congenital cataract, Earl was educated at the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh. At 26, he entered High Point College and graduated with a degree in English and Music. He then attended the Duke Divinity School and received a Bachelor of Divinity.
Earl became a minister because of his strong faith and because he admired how other ministers lived. Earl embraced his service humbly and whole-heartedly. He, too, lived an admirable life. In 1974, the Duke Divinity School awarded Earl the designation of Distinguished Alumnus.
Earl wanted it noted that throughout his college and seminary years his good friend Rev. James C. P. Brown served as a reader for him due to Earl’s impaired sight. He was forever grateful for Rev. Brown’s devoted friendship.
Ordained into the ministry of the NC Conference of the United Methodist Church in 1951, Earl served ministerial appointments in the following communities: Aulander, Edenton, Elizabeth City, Newton Grove, Rocky Mount, Franklinton, Southport, and Fayetteville. He concluded his ministerial service as Minister of Visitation at the Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Raleigh.
Upon retirement, Earl and his wife, Alice Copeland Richardson, settled in Cary, North Carolina until 1999, when they moved to Croasdaile Village, a Methodist Retirement Community in Durham.
Earl met Alice at one of his very first churches. Upon learning she was a staunch Carolina fan, he invited her to a Duke-Carolina game for their first date, where he mercifully converted her to the royal blue way of life.
Alice and Earl were married on June 9, 1954. They were blessed with two children, 63 years of loving marriage, and an abundance of family and friends that adored them.
Earl will be remembered for his compassionate nature, intellectual mind, fondness of sunrises and sunsets, love of music, and wearing a hat, pants and long-sleeves to the beach in the summertime.
He is preceded in death by his wife; his parents; and his sisters, Ethel Trotter of Robbins North Carolina, Eva Dowd and Era Mae Rickman of Southern Pines, North Carolina. In addition, his son, John Earl Richardson, Jr. of Newberry, South Carolina, died in 2000.
He is survived by his sisters, Carletta Cagle of Spout Springs and Georgia Bean of Robbins; his daughter, Bettie Richardson Bailey and her husband, Mike Bailey of Holly Springs; daughter-in-law, Mary C. Richardson of Wilmington; along with his grandchildren, John Thomas Richardson of Orlando, Florida, Bryan Richardson of Seattle, Washington, Erin Bailey Ellis and Hannah Bailey of Holly Springs; and seven great-grandchildren.
A private service and entombment will be held at Raleigh Memorial Park.
In this trying time, it is impossible to celebrate Earl’s life with all those who loved him. Thus, the family plans to host a proper farewell at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Croasdaile Benevolence Fund (2600 Croasdaile Farm Parkway Durham, NC 27705).
Arrangements are by Brown-Wynne Funeral Home, Cary, NC.