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Robert  Richards

Obituary for Robert Richards

May 12, 1940 - January 3, 2019
San Antonio, Texas | Age 78


With scholarship in hand, I went off to Austin in September 1958 to attend the University of Texas. My first two years were fairly lackluster, but my Spanish lessons at Sunset High School, Dallas, and in college led to my 1960 Summer Session as one of 15 exchange students to the University of Chile in South America. The trip was one of a lifetime, paid for by the University and the State Department. On the way back home, I stopped in Peru, Ecuador, and Panama for sightseeing. Back in Austin, I entered Air Force ROTC to gain an educational deferment for military service, planning to attend law school. After finishing my junior year, I had enough semester credits and a satisfactory LSAT score to enter the University Of Texas School Of Law. My commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force came in June 1962. Law School graduation was in June 1964, followed by a horrendous three-day ordeal of the Bar Examination, but I passed it. In late September 1964, I was admitted to the State Bar of Texas.

After I married my college sweetheart, a Fort Worth girl, the Air Force called me to active duty in January 1965 as a First Lieutenant Legal Officer at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, South Carolina. I was promoted to Captain, and in 1967 we moved for two years to a security-intelligence air base in Greece, on the island of Crete. I became the head of the Legal Office the second year. The friendliness of the Greek people and the low cost of living made it a fantastic two years, especially using it as a starting point for travel to Egypt, the Holy Land, Italy, and Spain. In 1969 the Air Force sent me to my third "hardship assignment" in a row, McCoy AFB in Orlando, Florida, where I was the head of an even larger Base Legal Office. With such great assignments, we decided to stay in the Air Force instead of getting out at the end of four years. At McCoy AFB, we adopted our daughter Rebecca Jane, who was two months old.

My next two assignments were as a circuit-riding court-martial judge. The first was at MacDill AFB in Tampa and then Carswell AFB in Fort Worth. Although I had inherited wanderlust from my father, my wife was not thrilled. At Carswell I was promoted to Major and was legally committed to serving another three years minimum. But my wife wanted to stay in Fort Worth near her family and wanted me to get out of the military and become a local attorney. I was unable to get out of my commitment, and we divorced.

My next assignment took me to Ramstein AFB, West Germany, working as a first-level appellate reviewer of court-martial convictions. I was out seeing Europe nearly every weekend, plus enjoying the fantastic German wine and well-known beer. But the Air Force decided in 1976 to cut my fun short and sent me to replace the fired head Legal Officer at George AFB in the Southern California desert, but not far from Los Angeles. With help from Jay Davis, my handpicked deputy, I was able to turn that Legal Office into one of the best in Tactical Air Command. I also was selected to be the legal advisor to an aircraft accident board investigating two aircraft crashes at Nellis AFB, Nevada. The Air Force paid for me to be in the City of Sin for two fantastic months.

After my promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, the Air Force sent me to an even larger Base Legal Office at Seymour Johnson AFB in the pine forest of North Carolina. There I met and married a local lady, was promoted to Colonel and sent to Japan to be the Chief Judge of the Pacific for courts-martial. I roamed from the Philippines and Guam to Korea and Sapporo, with a lot of sightseeing in between. Then in 1985 back to the States to Scott AFB, across the river from St. Louis, as the head Legal Officer for 23rd Air Force, the Air Force's Special Forces command, along with Air Search & Rescue. Most of my work there was classified. I got the assignment of a career in 1988, and returned to Frankfurt, Germany as the Chief Judge of Europe. I had five court-martial judges, and I controlled the docket. It was the best three-year paid vacation and sightseeing tour anyone could ever have. And I remember going to three Oktoberfests in Munich.

My last military assignment was as the head Legal Officer and Chief Intelligence Oversight Officer for the Air Force Intelligence Command at Kelly AFB. I was responsible for codifying the new Military Intelligence Law, as well as assuring that the Air Force's various methods of intelligence collection were within the Congressional mandates. I was also very much in the "Black World," which was a bit scary at times. Then my 30 years were up in January 1995, and I had to retire.

I got a two-week vacation, and then was hired as an Administrative Law Judge with the State Government and settled into a permanent ALJ position in San Antonio with the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission, deciding disputes between injured workers and insurance companies. My second wife and I parted ways and I have since been living life to the fullest, traveling to every country that has interested me.

Richards is survived by a daughter, Becky Richards Harmonson of Austin; and 2 grandsons, Christian Coleman Harmonson and Peter Carson Harmonson; a sister Bonnie Richards Chism and partner Michael Langford of Hamilton County; nieces, Jamie Chism Leonie and fiancé, Clayton Whitehead of Prosper, TX, Jill Chism Nall and husband Tom Nall of Huntersville, NC, and nephew Danny Chism and wife Cindy of Austin; great-nieces, Melissa Long and Rachel Leonie; and great-nephews, Andrew Leonie IV and wife Lexi; Aaron Leonie, Ty Chism and wife Christina, and Cole Chism, as well as step-sister Jeanne Jessie and step-brother Richard Wallendal and wife Sybil.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations may be made to the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, or the ASPCA in Robert's memory.

Interment will be 11:00 a.m. at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery on Monday January 28.

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Porter Loring Mortuary North

2102 North Loop 1604 East
San Antonio, TX 78232
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