Donald P. (Don) Richards, Topeka, died Tuesday, January 29, 2013. Don was a journalist, a professional photographer, and a travel agent specializing in international group tours. He was born on November 25, 1922 in St. Joseph, MO, the son of James C. and Virginia Kindig Richards. The family moved to Manhattan in 1931 where Don attended and was graduated from the Sacred Heart Academy grade and high school. He enrolled at Kansas State University in September 1940 and graduated with a degree in Industrial Journalism three years later in 1943. Don enlisted in the Army in June 1942 while enrolled in the ROTC program at Kansas State. He attended Infantry officers training at Fort Benning, Ga. and was ordered overseas to the European Theater in June 1944. He served as a platoon leader in the 317th Regiment, 80th Infantry Division, Third Army. He was wounded in the Battle of the Moselle, Eastern France and returned to the 317th during the Battle of the Bulge and was with the unit until the war ended in Europe. He was awarded the Combat Infantryman s Badge, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the ETO Theater Ribbon with four stars. In July 1945 he volunteered as a photo officer in the Third Army s 166th Signal Photo Company which was scheduled to go from Europe to the Pacific Theater for the invasion of Japan. The Japanese war ended while the photo company was readying for debarkation at Marseilles, France. The company was then broken up and Don was assigned to Oise headquarters at Reims then transferred to Western Base Headquarters in Paris. He returned to the U.S. in July 1946. Don married Donna Hassur in Parsons August 26, 1946 and accepted a position as sports editor for the Parsons Sun at that time. In January 1947 Don and Donna moved to Los Angeles, CA so he could attend the Fred Archer School of Photography, a two-year program in professional photography. In Los Angeles, Donna was employed by the FBI. In September 1949 the couple moved to Columbia, MO where Don became director of public relations photography and an instructor in photography for Stephens College. In June 1951, the Richards returned to Kansas as Don joined the staff of the Kansas Industrial Development Commission as a writer and photographer for the state magazine, To the Stars . In 1952 he was named editor of the magazine and in 1957 was instrumental in changing the name of the magazine to KANSAS! which is published today by the Kansas Department of Commerce. In 1964, Don joined the information office at the Menninger Foundation and a year later became director of the office, a position he held until his retirement in 1978. In 1982 Don became co-owner and president of a travel agency in Overland Park and began specializing in organizing group tours for international travel. For 25 years the Richards traveled the world with business and tourist groups visiting countries in all continents except Australia. In the early 1950 s Don organized his own company, Photography House, Inc. producing books and postcards for four Presidential Libraries, Boot Hill Museum, and the Kansas State Historical Society. He was a successful magazine, advertising and architectural photographer. Don was an active member of Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Topeka and served as the first moderator of its lay council and president of its PTA. He was an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America and a charter member and president of the Topeka Public Relations Society. He was a board member of both the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. He was a past member and former president of the Cosmopolitan Club of Topeka. He was a member of the Fortnightly Club, the Military Officers Association of America and the Legion of Honor, Arab Shrine. Don was the chairman of the Veterans Committee to establish a World War II memorial at Kansas State University. Don is survived by his wife, Donna, and three children: Robert, Denver, CO; Patricia, Los Altos, CA; Douglas, Hot Springs, AK; and two grandchildren, Christopher and Kevin Coulter, Los Altos, CA. A parish rosary will be prayed at 5 p.m. Friday at Kevin Brennan Family Funeral Home, 2801 SW Urish Rd, Topeka KS 66614 where family will greet friends until 7 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday at Most Pure Heart of Mary Church. Inurnment will be private at Mt. Calvary Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to Most Pure Heart of Mary Church or Midland Hospice Care, sent in care of the funeral home. Online condolences may be sent to www.kevinbrennanfamily.com. Donald Richards
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Published in Topeka Capital-Journal on Jan. 31, 2013