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Missouri legend Ron Richard passes away

Ronald Richard, the only Missourian to serve as both Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives and President Pro Tem of the Missouri Senate passed away last night.

Originally born in Kansas, Richard moved to Joplin when he was young with his father, the famous bowler Carl Richard, where he owned and operated Carl Richard’s 4th Street Bowl. There he went to high school and college, graduating from Missouri Southern State University.

Richard had a long history serving in Missouri politics. His first elected position was a councilman for the city of Joplin before becoming the mayor during the 1990s.

Later, he was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2002 representing House District 129.

In his final term he was chosen to be Speaker of the House for the 95th General Assembly and in 2008 he became the 71st Speaker of the House.

Next, Richard made history by becoming the first House Speaker to serve in the Senate in over 100 years when he won the election for Senate District 32 in. In 2013 he became the Senate Majority Leader.

He made history once again in 2015 when he was elected President Pro Tem of the Senate making Richard the first and only Missouri Legislator to be President Pro Tem and Speaker of the House.

Richard is survived by his wife Patty, his two children Kara and Chad, and his three grandchildren, Natalie, Landon, and Molly.

There has been an enormous outpouring of support from around the state as news broke:

Former House Speaker Steve Tilley said “Like many of you, I’m saddened to hear of Senator Ron Richard’s passing. He was a giant and has left a lasting imprint on Missouri public policy and politics.

Ron and I became friends through politics as many of us do. We started out as teammates but spent most of our political careers as adversaries. This was not enjoyable because Ron rarely lost. Thankfully, we buried the hatchet and ended as allies and ultimately friends.

Ron Richard is a Missouri treasure. He started as a state representative from Joplin, worked his was to speaker, was elected to the Senate and ended serving as pro tem – the first and only do this in Missouri.

Senator Richard belongs in the Missouri Hall of Fame with all of the other greats that preceded him. I call on House and Senate leadership to give our friend Ron Richard the final farewell he deserves!”

Governor Mike Parson said “Missouri has lost a strong leader and dedicated public servant with the passing of Ron Richard. Ron was one of few great men to have served as both President of the Missouri Senate and Speaker of the Missouri House during his public service career. He continued serving Joplin and southwest Missouri long after his tenure in state government and will be remembered for his years of committed leadership. Teresa and I are keeping Patty and Ron’s entire family in our prayers.”

President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden said “I am so sorry to hear of the passing of former Missouri Senate President Ron Richard. Ronny had a gruff exterior, but was as loyal, as loving and as sincere as anyone I have ever known. His legacy will live on for decades to come. Praying for Patty and his family today!”

Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo said “Very sad to hear this, I was fortunate to serve with Ron, his legacy and service to the state of MO is second to none. We may have disagreed from time to time but you always knew where you stood with Ron, and I was glad to call him a friend. My prayers are with his family.”

Current Speaker Dean Plocher said “Saddened today to hear about the passing of former Speaker of the House and Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard. He was a friend and mentor, and I’m praying for his wife, Patty, and his family. Missouri is better because of Ron’s leadership and I’m proud to have worked with him.”

Majority Floor Leader Dr. John Patterson said “Ron was a true gentleman and statesman. I feel fortunate that I got to know him in recent years. He will be dearly missed, but his legacy will live on in Missouri.”

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade said “Ron Richard’s status as the only person to serve as the top leader in both the state House and Senate guaranteed his place in Missouri political history. Southwest Missouri is always proud to have our folks lead, and President Richard took that responsibility seriously and we are better for it.”

Former House Speaker Catherine Hannaway said “Missouri lost one its greatest statesman, and I lost one of my dearest friends. It is a very sad day.”

Former House Speaker Rod Jetton said “With Speaker Richard’s passing Missouri has lost a true statesman. Without Ron’s support conservatives would have never won and expanded our majority in the Missouri legislature. He was the first and only person to be a House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tem. He will be sorely missed and I will always fondly remember our time together in the House.”

Former State Senator Jay Wasson said “Ron had no personal agenda for himself. He cared about his constituents at home. And he was unapologetic in caring about the history the decorum and the future of the Capital and those in it. The only person to be the Speaker of the House, and the president of the Senate. He was a lion for the state. He will be missed.”

Former State Senator Brad Lager said “For nearly two decades the name Ron Richards was synonymous with economic development in the Missouri Legislature. Throughout his tenure in public service, he was a passionate advocate for fostering an economic environment that would fuel economic growth. His passion, commitment to Missouri and love of our great state will be missed.”

Senator Curtis Trent said “Sen. Ron Richard was someone greatly respected as a statesman, community leader, and friend. I’m honored to have known him and served in the General Assembly with him.”

Senator  Denny Hoskins said “Ron Richard was a legend. He was a principled man, one who was never afraid to tell you the truth instead of just what you wanted to hear. As my Speaker & Pro-Tem, he led with honor, dignity and commanded respect even when we disagreed. RIP Speaker Richard.”

Lt. Gov Mike Kehoe said “Claudia and I are heartbroken by the loss of our dear friend, Ron Richard. Few elected officials have been a more effective advocate for Missourians than Ron. Our state was blessed to have his steady, consistent leadership. I also consider myself blessed to call him a friend and will miss him dearly. Ron has taught me more about responsible leadership and public service than any other person in the Capitol. He was a source of wisdom, advice, and counsel that cannot be replaced. Our prayers are with his wife, Patty, and his family as we mourn the loss of a great man and Missourian.”

Former Governor Jay Nixon said “Honest and Tough can still get you a long way in America. Ron Richard got to the pinnacle of power living that way. A leader for the ages. Rest in Peace my friend.”

Former Governor Matt Blunt said “Ron Richard was a friend who truly loved and cared about our state. He was a conservative leader who was widely admired by Democrats, Republicans and Independents for his pragmatism, integrity and desire to create more opportunity in our state.”

Attorney General Andrew Bailey said “Ron was a paragon of Missouri politics. He dedicated his professional career to serving the people of this State and we will be forever indebted to him for his service. He leaves behind a legacy of dedication and aptitude that offers inspiration to the present generation of public servants.”

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said “President Pro Tem of the senate and Speaker of the House Ron Richards was a great Missourian and he will be missed. I hope the people of Missouri will join Katie and me in keeping his family in our prayers.”

State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick said “ I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my friend and former colleague, Ron Richard. I had the honor of serving with him in the Missouri General Assembly where he was an inspiring example of what a true public servant can and should be. With his passing we have lost one of our very best and someone whose service and actions made a profoundly positive impact on our state. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Patty, and his friends and family as we mourn the loss of one of our state’s greatest leaders.”

Former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman said “He was a good and honorable man. He was always willing to work with you to make Missouri better.”

Former Senator Victor Callahan said: “Ron Richard was a man of great humor and an unparalleled devotion to his duty as a skilled legislative leader . He was an icon of both the House and Senate and his accomplishments and contributions stand as a legacy to us all who had the honor to know him as a friend.”

President of the University of Missouri Dr. Mun Choi: “Senator Richard was a Statesman of the highest order. His leadership, compassion and belief in American values will be greatly.
His support for public higher education enabled Mizzou and the UM universities to achieve excellence.”

President of Missouri State University Clif Smart said “Ron Richard was a tremendous leader in Jeff City, a great supporter of Missouri State University where he obtained his graduate degree, and a good friend. I will miss him.”

House Budget Chairman Cody Smith said, “One of my greatest political accomplishments will always be having earned the respect of Ron Richard. He was a great mentor to me, and having his counsel has felt like an unfair advantage. It was with Ron’s prompting and encouragement that I pursued the House Budget Committee. I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without his guidance and support, and I will miss him dearly.”

State Senator Jill Carter said, “I grew up in politics watching Ron. He was honest about where he stood, and he knew how to bring everyone to the table. He was always quick to respond to a call or reach out if he had a concern. He cared beyond himself. He was an icon, a legend, and his absence will be deeply felt.”

Missouri State Treasurer Vivek Malek said, “I never had the opportunity to get to know Ron Richard. But judging by the outpouring of emotion, and the fact he was elected House Speaker and Senate Pro Tem by his colleagues, he must have been a man of great character and ability. Missouri has lost one of its truly exceptional public servants.”

Former State Senator Ryan McKenna, “I had the pleasure to serve with Ron in the Senate. He was always straightforward, fair and had a great dry sense of humor. My prayers are with his family and friends but especially his best friend and his wife Patty. I will always remember my friend with a huge smile on my face. Rest in Peace Mr. President.”

Former St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said, “I was very fortunate to have known and worked with Ron Richard, particularly during my time as mayor of the City of St. Louis. He was a very well-respected, hard working and effective government servant and leader. I also considered Ron a good friend. Ron’s intellect, personality, leadership style, and integrity served the people of Missouri extremely well. He was always approachable, serious about his work, and fun to be around. Ron was one of a kind and will be sorely missed.”

Former Senator Maida Coleman said, ““Missouri has indeed lost a great man in Ron Richard. His service and accomplishments to the State of Missouri as leader of both legislative chambers are unparalleled. Ron was the consummate professional and an example to us all.”

Greg Hoberock said, “Ron was a great guy. He had no problem getting me what I wanted and had no problem leaving me the cold. That being said I had a lot of respect for Ron. When you were getting his help you knew it. When you were on your own, you knew it.”

Formers Senator Jack Goodman said, “Ron was a friend for over 20 years. We started our legislative service at the same time from neighboring districts. Ron’s intelligence and his uniquely engaging, direct, and wholly unpretentious way of relating to everyone made him a highly effective advocate for his constituents and all Missourians, earning the trust that made him the only Missourian to serve as both Speaker of the House and President Pro Tem of the Senate. He was always driven by what he believed was best for his constituents. I never saw or heard anything self-serving from Ron. His family and our state have lost a benevolent giant.”

Former Senate President Dave Schatz said, “Missouri is a better place because of Ron’s dedicated service to our state. He was a fearless leader and a loyal friend. Serving with him in the Senate, and following him as Pro Tem, he could always be counted on for a candid assessment of your work, whether you solicited it or not. Patty and his entire family will be in our thoughts and prayers.”

Former Senator Jon Dolan, “As Ron emerged as the economic development leader in the state, I remember introducing him to a great group of key St. Louis Leader’s. They loved the difference in our personalities and, of course, his far more than mine.Later, in a vastly changing state senate, he hosted a meaningful reunion to memorialize former senators to that passed away. So sad he has joined them too soon but he does so as a true leader and gentleman.”

Former Senator Jake Hummel “I served with Ron Richard for a decade. I don’t know anyone that cared more for the institutions of the house and senate. One day my tie was “slightly” undone, he walked right over and said Hummel it’s an honor to serve here. Fix that damn tie! RIP Ron”.

Former U.S. Senator Roy Blunt said, ““Ron Richard was an extraordinary leader. His service as both Speaker of the House and President Pro Tem of the Missouri Senate was unmatched. Any time I saw him in the last 25 years he would always ask what he could do for me. And then he always did it. He was a great friend and I will miss him.”

Services for Senator Richard are pending.