Robert Richardson, born in Panama City, Florida, on June 27, 1939, passed away on Saturday, January 5, 2019, surrounded by his loving family. He believed in and embodied the following qualities, values and attributes: Faith; Love; Kindness; Courtesy; Courage; Integrity; Service to others; Humor; Laughter; Honor; Humility; Loyalty; Friendship; a love of nature and animals; devotion to friends, his country, his beloved Panama City; and, most of all his fervent love of his family. He will be missed, but these values and qualities he instilled in his family are his legacy.
His story began in Millville, a small hamlet of Panama City. He was the son of Josie Marie Walters Richardson Davis and Bennie Ray Richardson. He is survived by his loving wife, Linda Richardson, and a large and loving family, including his children: Jo Richardson Grogan (Kendall), Debra Dawn Campbell, Robert Richardson II (Tina), April Smith (Chuck), Sandy Harris (Johnny), and Sharon Anderson (Chad Clough). His delight in his grandchildren was only surpassed by his love for them: April Merritt Kinker, Amber Merritt Fulmer, Kenneth Merritt II, Robert Richardson III, Jayde Harris, Amber Nations, Jennifer Eve Campbell, Audrey Morton, Hayley Smith, Summer Morton, Tucker Smith, Jayce Harris, James Giles, Samantha Anderson, Leila Smith, and Landon Robert Burrow. His extreme joy in his great-grandchildren was palpable to all who knew him – they carry his legacy of love and hope for the future: Ava Grace, Cora Noelle, Isabella Jo, Kyson, J. E. Finnegan, Kennady, Laurel Katherine, Jackson Robert, Cillian Thomas, Clara Marie, and Margot Eleanor. He is also survived by his brother, Travis (T.R., “Bill”) Richardson, and sister, Dianne Corbin Southall; numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews, and countless other family members and friends he counted as family.
He served his nation in the Navy as a Submariner, and his community for 33 years on the Panama City Fire Department, having retired as Fire Chief. At the time he became Fire Chief, he was the youngest in a Professional, paid department in the State of Florida. Chief Richardson was a believer in education and training and established the Fire Department Training Grounds in Panama City, to ensure that his firefighters were equipped with the skills and knowledge they needed to protect their city and its citizens. He was past President of the Florida Fire Chief’s Association, Panama City Exchange Club, the Panama City Rotary Club, was a Boy Scout Leader, and youth coach. He was honored by many for his service as a Firefighter and Fire Chief, having been recognized as the Bay County Firefighter of the Year, Firefighter of the Year for the State of Florida, Fire Chief of the Year for the State of Florida, and was appointed by the Governor to serve on the Florida State Fire Board and as the Fire Representative for the Florida State Building Codes.
Services will be held on Friday, January 11, 2019, at 11:00 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Panama City with Pastor Darryl Roberts officiating. Visitation with the family will be from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., before the services. Interment will follow the service at Evergreen Memorial Gardens.