In Memory Of John T. Richards Jr.

In Memory of John T. Richards Jr. 1930-2007

On May 20, 2007, Richards & Richards LLP suffered the loss of our founding partner, father, colleague and friend. John T. Richards, Jr. led by example, setting such a good one that two of his four children, Veronica Richards and John T. Richards, III, followed him into the profession.

“I guess to be a good lawyer you have to listen to what people are trying to tell you and figure out what their problem really is and try to help them. He was very good at that,” said his son, John T. Richards III, a real estate lawyer. “He grew up in a pretty basic family on the North Side. He wanted to do something better for himself and was pretty ambitious.”

“He was always laughing, and very optimistic. He had cancer, and he was going to beat it until he didn’t,” said his daughter, Veronica Richards, a medical malpractice and personal injury lawyer. “He was quite an inspiration.”

He worked as a real estate lawyer for 48 years. He was recognized as one of “The Best Lawyers in America.” He is responsible for drafting the Model Forms used by Realtors throughout Pennsylvania, and pioneered the concept of going to the client for real estate closings, rather than forcing the client to come to the attorney.

A graduate of Oliver High School, Mr. Richards at first went to Ohio State University on a full football scholarship, where he was a quarterback. But a back injury at a practice ended his football career. He joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps to cover expenses.

After graduating, he served in the Army as a first lieutenant from 1953 to 1955 at a missile base at Fort Meade in Maryland.

“He likes to say he was protecting Washington from Baltimore,” John T. Richards III said. “He apparently did a good job because they’re both still there.”

After his military service, Mr. Richards, then a father of two, attended Duquesne University Law School at night while working full time to support his family.

“In spite of that, he managed to graduate first in his class. Or maybe it was because of it,” his daughter said.

Mr. Richards was a founding partner of the Richards and Kelly Law Firm in 1968, which dissolved in 2005. At the time of his death, he was an active partner with Veronica and John.

“He really felt that the legal profession was all about helping people honorably,” his daughter said. “I admired seeing him interact with clients. All his clients were his friends.”

An avid golfer, Mr. Richards was a longtime member of the Wildwood Golf Club. John Richards III said his father got his first hole-in-one in Florida in January 2006 — after about 60 years of play.

“He was pretty good. He just couldn’t get that hole-in-one until near the end,” his son said. “He was pretty excited about that.”

Mr. Richards is survived by his wife of 53 years, Rosemary Brennen Richards; two daughters, Veronica A. Richards, of Pine, and Lynn Sebastian, of Plum; two sons, John T. Richards III, of McCandless, and Charles B. Richards, of Shaler; a sister, Mary Kendall, of Ross; and nine grandchildren.

We thank Brian C. Rittmeyer of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review for the beautiful article above.

Portrait by Joe Kanoza: