Melvin Owen Richardson


Melvin Owen Richardson was born to Marvin Richardson and Stella “Opal” Dial Richardson on May 8, 1931 in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. He died on February 11, 2013 at Fayetteville, Arkansas following complications from surgery.

Mel’s parents divorced in 1940 and he and a brother and two sisters were sent to an orphanage until their mother married Roy Fields. The family was living in Woodward, Oklahoma in April of 1947 when a tornado destroyed the home they were living in. Roy’s brother, Ralph Fields, invited the family to come live in an empty house on his farm at Curtis, Oklahoma until they were able to get their home repaired. Mel grew very close to his new family and with Betty Fields in particular.

The Ralph Fields family moved to South Dakota in October 1947 and Melvin spent the remainder of his teenage years in Oklahoma. He joined the Navy and served as an operator of a landing barge during the Korean War. Melvin traveled to South Dakota after his stint in the Navy and went to work in the hay fields for Ralph Fields the summer of 1953. He finally overcame his shyness and asked for Betty’s hand in marriage. They were married in Dupree, South Dakota on August 25, 1953 and were a living example of devotion and love as a married couple. Four children, Dondra, Debbie, Devona and Larry, were born to this union. Betty’s youngest sister, Verla, lived with Mel and Betty for several years and was like another daughter to them. A special niece, Leota Starr, also stayed with them on occasion.

Mel purchased the Texaco station in Dupree and ran it for a few years and when the business was sold he went to work for Roy Kraft at the Farmers Union. He moved his family to Fort Pierre, South Dakota in 1962 when he was hired to manage the Farmers Union station in Pierre, South Dakota. The family moved back to Dupree, South Dakota in 1965 where Mel first worked as a butcher for Hollis Barker at the Jack & Jill Store. He then took over the Farmers Union in 1970 following the death of Roy Kraft. The Farmers Union flourished during his management and he mentored several young men as employees, including husbands for his three daughters and two special nephews, Bob Fields and Lester Starr.

In 1977 Mel and Betty purchased a chicken farm and with Larry, they moved to Lincoln, Arkansas. They retired from raising chickens in 2003 and moved to Westville, Oklahoma, where their son, Larry and family lived. They lived there until Betty’s death on March 12, 2004. The time following Betty’s death was a very difficult time for Mel. Shortly after Betty’s death, Mel ran into one of his and Betty’s church friends who had lost her husband a few years before. Pam Goldman saved Mel’s life and became his wife on August 4, 2007. They enjoyed their years together and made many trips to South Dakota and Nebraska to visit the daughters and their families and even traveled as far as Canada to stay in touch with the Fields’ families. Pam was a devoted wife and stayed by Mel’s side until his death.

Mel is survived by his wife, Pam Richardson of Westville, OK; daughters, Dondra (Bob) Menzel and Debra (Mike) Burgee of Dupree, SD and Devona (Monty) Sever of Kearney, NE; son, Larry Richardson of Fayetteville, AR; son-in-law, David Mraz of Rapid City, SD and daughter-in-law, Debbie Richardson of Westville, OK; fifteen grandchildren, Brady (Tara) Menzel, CJ (Mandie) Menzel, Rob Menzel and Melanie (Brent) Mareska; JoLynn (Dustin) Bostrom and Susan (Albert) Daou; Ryan (Jacqueline) Mraz, Barry (Somer) Mraz, Tanya (Andrew) Weitzel, Megan (Jerad Hutchens) Sever and Tell Sever; Brandy Ritter, Cassie Richardson, Summer Carrizal and Krystal Richardson and nineteen great-grandchildren and many more family and friends. He will be missed by all.

In keeping with Mel’s wishes, his body was cremated and there will be no funeral service. A memorial service was held on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 7 p.m. in Lincoln, AR at the Amazing Grace Fellowship. Mel’s dear friend and pastor, Jackie Uselton, led the memorial service.