Edwin RICHARDS

Obituary
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RICHARDS, Edwin, age 87, of St. Petersburg, FL, died March 26th, 2014. We send with you, our brave sailor, a compass, a steady breeze and a safe harbor. A private service will be held afloat in Tampa Bay, where his ashes will be scattered. A gathering of family and friends will be announced for a later date. Father of three, he is survived by his wife Lula, daughters Sally Richards of St Petersburg, and Lynda Carr of Orca, WA, he was predeceased by his son, Ed Richards, Jr. and brother Ken Richards. Other surviving relatives are his sister Margaret Owens, nephews Richard and Dudley Owens of Dahlonega, GA, and James Richards of Tampa.He is also survived by three 2nd cousins. He was born in Clearwater in 1926 and grew up in Tampa. He was the son of the late Ken and Lucy Richards, owners of the Richard's Palma Ceia Drug Store. He graduated from Plant High School in 1944. He joined the Army in 1944 and served 3 years during WWII in the Ordinance Department of the Army at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD. He was a Control System Repairman and an instructor on the use of Heavy AntiAircraft Artillery. He also served in the Pacific Theater on Operation Crossroads and Eniac. In 1951 he received a degree in business administration from the University of Florida. He enjoyed memberships in the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, Ye Mystic Crew of Gasparilla, a Lifetime Member of the Sertoma International, the Tampa and St. Petersburg Yacht Clubs, the Ancient Mariners and the Cruising Club of America. Early on he had a fascination with airplanes, building models. At 13, in 1940, he entered model plane meets at Interbay Airport. Unable to stay on the ground, he learned to fly and had his first solo flight when he was 14 years old. He became a member of the Civil Aeronautics Administration. His love for wide open spaces bound him to the air and the sea. He began his boat building as a young man, building a 16' snipe in 2 months at age 15, dinghies he sold during college, ski boats and jumps with friends used on Lake Keystone, then on to large sailboats. There was a 27' sloop, a 46' sloop built in the family backyard in Beach Park, Tampa and his final Heritage 54' ketch, named the Bolero. In addition to working in the family drug store, in 1962 he started a Lafayette Radio Electronics franchise. It grew into seven stores in the Bay area. He was an avid sailor, racing with some of the best. Sailing on Jamal and the Big Toy, at the time the world's largest fiberglass boat, with it's own wine cellar. They won the Tampa to Ft. Meyers race in 1960. Racing on Fortuna and Bristote in the St. Petersburg to Morro Castle, Habana, Cuba, 284 nautical miles. The race was run for 24 years and some say he holds the record for participation. But he wasn't alone. He was one of several who now call themselves the Ancient Mariners, who shaped the sailing world around Tampa Bay. Of course when sailing on the ocean with it comes a curiosity of what lies below. It was his wife Lula that enticed the family to learn to Scuba dive and dive trips became the focus of family vacations, either from the Bolero or a chartered yacht or a trip to dive in the Red Sea. In the early 90's the 54' ketch was completed behind their home in Odessa, FL and he and Lula moved aboard her. They enjoyed the lifestyle and stayed afloat for the next 17 years. The Bolero was docked at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club for many years and made many a sojourn to the Bahamas, Caribbean Islands and over to Belize and Guatemala. In 2005, Ed was part of a group which included Charley Morgan, who were invited to help with the production of the hanging of the Airside C Wing sculpture at Tampa International Airport which you will see there today. Last month I thanked him for taking us sailing, his response was, "Sooner rather than later." We should all follow his advice. In lieu of flowers, he would have appreciated all contributions go to Suncoast Hospice Foundation, 5771 Roosevelt Blvd. Clearwater, FL 33760 Note: We could not have anticipated the caring help received from Suncoast Hospice, greatly beyond believing. And we thank friends for your kind words and prayers. We will miss Ed, but he is at peace now and that gives us comfort as we know it does him.

Published in TBO.com on Apr. 6, 2014
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