William Richards
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William L. Richards

Bryson City - William L. "Billy" Richards of Bryson City, North Carolina died on November 7, 2015 after a hard fought battle with cancer.

Billy was born in 1952 in Atlanta, Georgia, where he was raised by the late William and Irmeth Richards. He attended public schools and then college in Georgia, earning a degree in philosophy from Georgia State University. He subsequently attended law school at the University of Georgia, graduating cum laude in 1980.

Following graduation, Billy practiced law in Georgia. In 1982, his love of outdoor activities led him to set aside the practice of law and move to Swain County, North Carolina to become a whitewater rafting guide. He worked for the Nantahala Outdoor Center for over fourteen years, rising through the ranks to become a Vice President. During that time, he led trips throughout the southeastern United States as well as through the Grand Canyon and in Chile.

In 1997, Billy returned to the practice of law. He set up shop in Bryson City, concentrating on real estate transactions. Billy's keen intellect, unwavering diligence and good humor made him a respected and admired practitioner. He was also active in the community, participating in fundraisers for the Swain County Community Foundation and coaching youth basketball and mock trial teams. An avid bicyclist and kayaker throughout his adult life, Billy often competed in local races and triathlons.

Billy is survived by his beloved wife of 20 years, Julie, and cherished daughters Jessie and Lily of Bryson City, North Carolina. He is also survived by his sister Nancy Richards of Atlanta; his mother and father-in-law Nan and Chuck Dauphiné of Asheville; his brothers-in-law Jon and Marc of Washington, D.C; and a multitude of treasured family and friends.

Cards of sympathy may be mailed to P.O. Box 1414, Bryson City, NC 28713. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made in memory of Billy Richards to the "Julia Hunt Endowment" (provides scholarships for Swain County residents pursuing a degree at a university or college with volunteer experience in Swain County) or "PAWS: Placing Animals Within Society Endowment" (an animal shelter in Swain County). The address for either is: c/o North Carolina Community Foundation, 4601 Six Forks Road, Suite 524, Raleigh, NC 27609.

A memorial service open to the public will be held on November 21 at 2:00 p.m. at Southwestern Community College's Swain Center (the old Almond School) located on Highway 74 (street address is 60 Almond School Road, Bryson City). Additional details, including a potential alternate location for parking, will be posted on the following web site at some point before the service: www.lawfirmrichards.com

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Asheville Citizen-Times on Nov. 10, 2015.
Memories & Condolences
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17 entries
November 26, 2015
Miss you, BR! You were one of the best mentors in the Western North Carolina for me. Much love and sympathy, Julie, Jessie, and Lily. BR lives in all three of you, and in many others, including me, as well. :)
Hugh Kelly
November 16, 2015
Our thoughts and prayers are with all in the family, especially Julie and the girls. If there is anything I can do, please let me know! With Love, Lala and the Simonpietris.
Grace "Lala" Simonpietri
November 12, 2015
Julie, Jessie and Lily, I am thinking and praying for you from California! I will dearly miss Billy. I pray that you and all of us know always that he is in our hearts!
Uncle Marc
November 11, 2015
Julie, Jessie and Lily, While I first met Billy as the real estate lawyer for our firm, Bill became so much more... he was a good friend on so many levels. One of my favorite memories of Billy was when he was the "detective" for our fund raising Mystery Dinner Theatre's at Julia's Everett Street Diner. He would pace the streets working to remember his lines, when what he was best at was ad-libbing. When he was once asked who came in second place the night before, he voiced "who cares, in America we only like winners" which brought out belly laughs from the entire crowd. Billy was that special person who combined intellect, humor, generosity, caring, and honesty naturally. He told me he worked hard for he loved his wife and both of his daughters. I know he will live on in your loving memories of him till the rest of your days, as he will in mine. Thank you Billy for all that you taught me and everyone else. Our thoughts and prayers are with you Julie, Jessie and Lily. Cheryl & Winston Ostrow
November 11, 2015
Billy was a Bryson City Treasure. He will be so missed. Ken & Debbie Mills
November 10, 2015
"B.R." was one of the mentors whom I adopted as a wayward refugee from the suburbs of Atlanta in 1984ish. He was(is) what I wanted to become as a person who chooses to live in these mountains. I'm sure he lived well to the end, so may we who loved him.
Jeff Nelson
November 10, 2015
Julie,Jessie and Lily, my heart goes out to you. BR is a wonderful husband, father and friend. I will not say he was...I will say he is and always will be a special friend because he will be here in our hearts and memories forever.
Ken Kastorff
November 10, 2015
You are in my thoughts and prayers. Love to you Julie, Lily, and Jessie.
Jill Cooper
November 10, 2015
Working with Billy was a wonderful experience. He could always make me laugh and he was so smart. I will miss him.
Heather Baker
November 10, 2015
Julie, Jessie and Lily. I truly loved Billy with all my heart. He was like a big brother to me and one of the main reasons I decided to permanently move here from New Orleans. He taught me much about the law and, in the end, life. They broke the mold after Billy was born. Just a one of a kind incredible person. My life will not be the same without him. He will be in my thoughts daily forever. If there is anything I can do for any of you, just say the word.
Gary Miller
November 10, 2015
Thinking of you and your family. I'm so sorry for your loss and I wish you strength and courage through this difficult time.
Mandy Higdon
November 10, 2015
My staff and I always looked forward to seeing Billy when he came to the Jackson County Register of Deeds office to record something. It is a sad time for us....we will miss him !
Joe Hamilton
November 10, 2015
Please accept my and Cathy's condolences. Billy was awesome and a pleasure to work with.
November 10, 2015
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
billy ensley
November 10, 2015
Much love to you all Julie, Jesse and Lily, thinking of you at this time. His wit was infinite his love for you immense. He was a shining star. Rest in peace dear friend
Deb Bailey Lawson
November 9, 2015
Grand Canyon
One of my favorite people for twenty years. A good friend and one of the smartest people I have known. We were running laps at Wesser Falls during a flood one spring, below NOC. Billy was teaching a rescue clinic at the first get out spot below. A raft missed the lower takeout and they all jumped out and swam it (they were told not to run that "in a raft" so they jumped out, bizarre). Several were injured, as we paddled against current to help, Billy yelled "Don't help them, that's what we're here for!" Ironic, and quite funny, as heard from an attorney... photo is just a favorite place for BR...
William Parks
November 9, 2015
I was awed by Billy's ability to capture a crowd when doing his trip talks and always thought he could make it as a stand up comedian. On a Nantahala trip long ago, I discovered a very kind and supportive man while training a young rascal of a raft guide, and he offered respectful support. I know you will miss him. I will keep ya'll in my heart and prayers.
Nadine Bourg
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