Darrel Lee Richardson, 77, passed away suddenly at his home in West Des Moines on Tuesday, September 20, 2011. A visitation with his family will be held Thursday, September 22, from 6 to 8 p.m. at McClaren's Funeral Home. A celebration of his life will be held Friday, September 23 at 2 p.m. at West Des Moines United Methodist Church at 720 Grand Avenue.
Darrel was born on June 22, 1934, the second son of Leon and Dorothy (Vogel) Richardson. A lifelong resident of West Des Moines, he grew up in Valley Junction and graduated from Valley High School in 1952. After playing AAA baseball as a pitcher for the White Sox, he went to college to study physical education, earning his B.A. from the Iowa State Teacher's College (now UNI), and a Master's Degree from Drake University. He then began a long career as an educator and coach, working first in Truro, Iowa, before transferring to the Des Moines Public Schools in 1960.
Darrel believed strongly in the value of education and the role of teachers in shaping the character of their students. As a teacher and wrestling coach at Harding Middle School, he provided support and guidance to his students that stretched beyond the classroom, helping them to find after school and summer jobs, and serving as a mentor and counselor. To those students, and to many of his friends who shared his passion for athletics, he will always be known as "Coach." After leaving Harding, he was a work experience advisor for the New Horizons program at Hoover and North High Schools before retiring in 1996.
Darrel was a born athlete and an enthusiastic sports fan. He enjoyed bowling, racquetball, hunting, and fishing, but his greatest love was golf - he often joked that the reason he became a teacher was to have the summers off to work on his game. When the weather kept him off the course, he could often be found playing cards, and he will be remembered as a fierce competitor. His other hobbies included collecting autographed baseballs, gardening, and reading biographies of U.S. presidents. He was a member of the Des Moines Education Association, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Des Moines Golf and Country Club.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Leon and Dorothy, and his oldest son Jeffrey. He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Judith, his son Sean (Jenny) of Denver, Colorado, his daughter Jennie Ketchum (Tom) of Mission Viejo, California, his step-daughter Lisa Norris-Lynner (Brian) of Des Moines, his grandchildren Courtney and Kailee Ketchum and Sophia and Wyatt Richardson, and his brothers, Jerry (Wanda) and Bruce (Judy), of Riverside, California.
Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association , or to the charity of one's choice.