James Richards, 95, died peacefully at Lampstand Nursing and Rehabilitation in Bryan, Texas on July 14, 2019 after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was born April 6, 1924 in Madison County. He was the only son of Walter Wylie and Minervia Arzelia (Keefer) Richards.
While a student at A&M Consolidated school, James heard of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Feeling strong concern for his country, he begged his parents to quit school and join the military, but they would not sign for him and James was underage at the time. He waited until he turned eighteen and entered the U.S. Navy on December 15, 1942. James was asked to be in the Seabees, a construction group who was responsible for building bridges, railroads, boat docks or any structure needed for soldiers and combat vehicles during World War II. They did all of this while incurring enemy fire from the ground and air much of the time. The Seabees were responsible for the first marine railway, which enabled the Navy to repair amphibious boats that were used in the Solomon Islands. There wasn’t much that they couldn’t do, which turned into their group motto, “Can Do.” In December 1944, James became ill with what was later determined to be undulant fever and eventually had to have kidney surgery. He was returned home for the surgery and recuperation. With the end of the war in Europe, and because of his illness and surgery, James was discharged from the Navy on June 19, 1945. James never regretted his time as a Seabee and always remarked that he would have done everything all over again. “If your country is not worth fighting for, then it’s not worth living in.”
James graduated Howard Payne University in Brownwood with a Bachelor of Science degree. He taught school a few years, worked at TDCJ for ten years, worked in construction for many years and was an ordained Baptist minister.
James was preceded in death by both of his parents; wife of fifty-three years, Ada Mae Richards, son, Henry Lee Alpha; niece, Lynda Petty and two sisters and their spouses, Marie McCollum (David) and Doris Stevenson (L.B.).
Survivors include son, Mike Alpha (Kay); daughter, Marilyn Posey (Carl), all of the Robbins Community and daughter-in-law, Virginia Alpha of Pittsburg.
James was known as “PawPaw Buddy” to nine grandchildren, Kenneth Alpha, Becky Ware (Landan), Lori Rhoden (Billy), Clint Alpha, Scotty Alpha, Melissa Reeves, Tammie Ginsel (Keith), Tara Newsom (Mark) and Sam Posey (Crystal) and seventeen great-grandchildren, Colton, Paige, Trey, Dayne, Mikayla, Dylan, Brady, Addison, Brandon, Cameron, Amberly (Christopher), Jett, Jagger, Karilyn (David), Nicholas (Shelbi), Josie and Clayton, as well as, two great, great-grandsons, Adam, Landyn with one on the way. James is also survived by niece, Kathy Moore (Ned) and nephews, Lawrence Stevenson, Mike Stevenson (Patty), David Stevenson (Cheryl) and Jeff Stevenson (Erin).
Funeral services for James were held 10 A.M., Thursday, July 18, 2019 at Walters Funeral Home in Centerville, Texas. Rev. Billy Bob Evans officiatee the service. A private interment was held following the service at Concord Cemetery.
Arrangements were under the direction of Walters Funeral Home in Centerville, Texas. www.waltersfuneralhome.com