Looking Back: Hometown Hero Charlie Richard
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
Charlie Richard was inducted into the Baker University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995, the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1995, the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004 as a coach, and the Grain Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.
He quarterbacked Grain Valley to a winning record in 1958 and William Jewell College to a 9-1 conference championship and national ranking in 1962. After coaching at Odessa and Moberly high schools, he was an assistant coach at Central Missouri State while he completed his master’s degree and Educational Specialist.
In 1976, Richard became the football coach, track coach and athletic director at Highland (Kansas) Community College. Then, in 1980, Charlie became the head football coach at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas and, as they say, the rest is history.
Charlie built the football program at Baker into one of the best small college programs in the nation compiling a 14-season record of 123-28-1. He led Baker to 11 Heart of America Athletic Conference championships, 10 NAIA playoff appearances and a victory in the 1985 Sunflower Bowl.
Richard’s team won nine games nine times and, at the end of the 1994 season, had been ranked in the NAIA Top 25 for 128 consecutive weeks. He produced 32 All-Americans, 25 Academic All-Americans and was named the conference coach of the year six times.
Charles Allen Richard was born on May 30, 1944 to William D. “Dub” and Charlene Stephenson Richard. He was the oldest of their three sons and grew up on the family dairy farm on Nebgen Road, south of Grain Valley. His roots run deep as the Richard family tree can be traced back to the Dennis and Martha Costigan, one of the first families in Eastern Jackson County.
Charlie’s mother was the youngest of the Stephenson family. Her oldest sister taught at Oak Hill School in 1913 & 14. Les and Lloyd Stephenson (Stephenson’s Apple Orchard and Restaurant 1946-2007) were first cousins.
Charlie graduated from Grain Valley High School in 1959. In perusing the 1959 Treasure Chest yearbook, his photo turned up on many activity pages. Charlie was on the newspaper staff, the yearbook staff, student council vice-president, National Honor Society vice-president, the senior play, football, basketball, track and Lettermen’s Club. In addition to all of these activities, perhaps his greatest high school accomplishment, Charlie was valedictorian of the Class of 1959.
The Grain Valley Historical Society Museum is located at 506 South Main Street and online at www.grainvalleyhistory.com.
Charlie Richard, a 1959 GVHS graduate, was inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Grain Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.
Photo courtesy Grain Valley Historical Society.
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