Barrett Richardson ’49

Barrett Rives Richardson, Sr. was born on April 5, 1928 in Portsmouth and passed away on October 23, 2020. He was the son of the late Junius Richardson and Agnes Lash Richardson and grew up on Court Street in Old Towne Portsmouth. He graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1946, received a bachelor’s degree from Davidson College in 1949 and a master’s degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1950. Barry was an English instructor at Wake Forest College from 1950-1951 and then enlisted in the U. S. Coast Guard.

He subsequently graduated from Officer Candidate School at the U. S. Coast Guard Academy in 1952, and was on active duty until 1954, when he transitioned to the Coast Guard Reserve and began working as an editorial writer and page editor, directly under the publisher of the Portsmouth Star. He had an illustrious newspaper career for the next thirty-nine years. When the Star merged with the Ledger-Dispatch, he continued writing editorials for three years.

In 1958, he was transferred to the news department of the Ledger-Star and covered a variety of beats, including business, education, medical, courts and city government. Barry became a copy editor in 1962, assistant Portsmouth-Chesapeake editor in 1966 and Portsmouth city editor in 1967, in charge of Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Suffolk news operations.

During this time, he named the Portsmouth Currents, Norfolk Compass, Virginia Beach Beacon and Chesapeake Clipper, publications highlighting local features of those cities. After the newsrooms of the Ledger-Star and Virginian-Pilot merged in 1982, he retired as Public Editor and Ombudsman on April 30, 1993.

After retirement, Barry was an adjunct faculty member at Tidewater Community College and Christopher Newport University, teaching English composition and journalism.

Barry also retired as a Commander in the Coast Guard Reserve, serving for 21 years in a wide variety of billets afloat and ashore, including two separate unit commands. During his duty in one of these commands, his unit was judged best in the Fifth Coast Guard district.

Barry had a great sense of humor and loved all animals, especially cats, prompting one of his granddaughters to describe him on Grandparent’s Day at her elementary school as “Pop is really good with cats!”

His backyard in Portsmouth was a sanctuary for all creatures, including birds, squirrels, and the occasional opossum. He was beloved by many dogs in his Green Acres neighborhood for carrying dog biscuits in his pockets and dispensing them freely on his daily walks.

The family would like to thank caregivers Gaye Cuffee, Tamika Hunter, Jasmine Jones, and Etienne Williams for their love, kindness, patience, and professionalism which has meant so much, and for other caregivers who were much appreciated over the last five years when he lived at Lake Prince Woods in Suffolk. The family would also like to thank Sentara Hospice and nurse Tammy Williams for comfort and care in Barry’s final days.

Barry is survived by his beloved wife of 66 years, Nell Bryant Richardson, his children Ellen Richardson Davenport, Barrett Richardson, Jr., and John Bryant Richardson, and two granddaughters, Alice Brooks Davenport and Julia Barrett Davenport.

Burial will be private, and a memorial service will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be offered to the Endowment Fund of Monumental United Methodist Church in Portsmouth, Virginia.

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