Walter Charles Richardson
Rhoden Memorial Home, Inc.
729 Cherry Avenue NE
Canton, OH
Walter Charles Richardson
The well-known choral bass, passed away on Oct. 10, 2010, after a year- long battle with cancer. He was 69. Known both for his rich and powerful low notes as well as his upbeat and generous personality, he was a well-respected colleague and beloved friend of many in New York's professional choral world. He was baptized and attended the Friendship Baptist Church during his childhood and young adult years. (The beginning of his singing career where he song in the youth choir). Mentored by Metropolitan Opera bass Simon Estes, Mr. Richardson was a member of the Met Studio's Young Artist Program for two years in the early 1970's. In 1973, he appeared as part of the Mini Met's premiere of Virgil's Thomson's Four Saints in Three Acts along with a number of singers making their Met debuts, including Barbara Hendricks, Betty Allen, Benjamin Matthews, and Clamma Dale, among others. The production was directed and choreographed by Alvin Alley with sets by Ming Cho Lee. He appeared as a chorister in other important engagements, including the world premiere of Leonard Bernstein's Mass, conducted by the composer, written for the 1972 opening of the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Fresh out of the University of Michigan, and without telling his family and friends, Walter Richardson came to New York to audition as a singer, and impressed his listeners immediately with his robust voice and its particularly large range, especially his low extension, as well as with his first-rate musicianship and unique spirit. As a long-time member of the Gregg-Smith Singers he sang New York concerts, annual US tours, over a dozen international tours, and participated in its Adirondack Festival of American Music for nearly 30 years. Richardson performed with many music organization in the city, including Musica Sacra (Richard Westernberg and Kent Tritle, conductors), and Voices of Ascension (Dennis Keene, conductor), as well as with the New York Philharmonic (under such luminaries as Leonard Bernstein, Kurt Mazur, Lorin Maazel and Sir Colin Davis) and the American Symphony Orchestra (Leon Botstein, conductor). Richardson was a perpetual favorite of all the active choral contractors in New York, and could frequently be seen bicycling through New York's busy streets going from one rehearsal to another. As a member of a number of professional choruses, his voice appeared on numerous recordings. Born and raised in Massillon, Ohio, Walter Richardson received this undergraduate degree from Central State University in Ohio, and a Masters degree in Voice from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, graduating in 1971, where he studied with Willis Patterson, who recruited him to the school. At Michigan, he sang leading roles in the main stage productions of Rossini's The Barber of Seville and Weill's Three Penny Opera, among others, and won scholarships to Interlochen National Center for the Arts in the summers. At Interlochen he studied acting with the legendary Boris Goldovsky in his Opera Workshop, and won the highly competitive 'Concerto Contest', a rarity for a singer as the spot was usually filled by a virtuoso instrumentalist, in Richarson's case the prize being a performance of arias under the baton of Frederick Fennell. Under the sponsorship of the State Department, as one of only five groups representing the United States (the others were professional organizations), Richardson toured the Soviet Union in 1971 with the University of Michigan Chamber Choir, under the direction of Thomas Hilbish, for eight weeks, performing in ten major cities. During his illness he stated 'When it's my time, Be Happy For Me'. He was preceded in death by his parents, Fletcher and Alean Richardson, brothers, John and Fletcher Jr. Richardson and Robert and Edward Johnson.
He leaves to cherish his beautiful memory sisters, Lollie Brooks (who reared Walter from the age of 10) ad Patricia Beane (Frank); aunt, Vivian Richardson of Detroit, Mich.; devoted nephew; nieces and great-niece, Jerry Brooks (Rachel) of Calif., Carole Tolbert of Warrensville Hts., Ohio, Carmen Johnson (Martin) of Colo., and Kimberly Brooks of New York; and a host of nephews; nieces; great-nieces; cousins; and friends.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010 at 11 a.m. at Friendship Baptist Church, 920 3rd Street Southeast, Massillon, OH, where Pastor Reginald Hye will be eulogizing. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. until time of service. Interment at Massillon Cemetery.
(330) 455-7944

Published by The Repository on Oct. 14, 2010.
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Rhoden Memorial Home, Inc.
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20 Entries
Seing Walter pedal down the hills in Saranac Lake and hearing him sing was an important part of the Adirondack Festival of Music for many years. I would wish I could thnk that the news of his passing "aint necessarily so." He is irreplacable.
Patricia Winckler
October 28, 2010
We are sending our deepest condolences to Walter's family. Maurice knew Walter through LISCA.
Maurice & Shirley Kemp
October 20, 2010
"He did it his way". What a wonderful life.
Elverna Abston
Elverna Abston
October 19, 2010
All the people who knew Walter in the apartment house on 74th Street delighted in his presence, loved his anecdotes and stories about singers and concerts, and were forever cheered by his musical talent and his human warmth. We who live and work here treasure his courage and his spirit. What a grand man!
Laura & Frank
October 18, 2010
WALTER may beloved and talented cousin,after reading all your travels and accomplishments, makes me very proud . I know God has a special place for you in HEAVEN.
Melanie Curtis
Houston, Texas
October 18, 2010
Walter, my friend, you always greeted so warmly. You always had time to talk to me. Your incredible bass voice was always there to set a firm foundation for the chorus. I always will remember accompanying you as you sang That Old Black Magic with great jazz feeling.
Dick Thompson
Dick Thompson
October 15, 2010
To Uncle Walt,
My memories of you are much much earlier than that of your artistic career but during your earlier years while at Central State University. Being so young, it was just a joy to say that I had a big Uncle to look up to. I often heard of your many travels while singing opera and I was so proud though from afar, of your accomplishments. Rest well and sing strong dear Uncle
Mia Toles-Pickard
October 15, 2010
Walt was a wonderful free spirit and happy man who brought joy to all who knew him. He was a beautiful singer, wonderful performer, and the goodness of his personality radiated through all of his music making. My many years of singing and touring with him with the Gregg Smith Singers enriched my life. We all will miss him sorely. Linda Eckard (Grossman)
Linda Eckard
October 15, 2010
Walter,I am Oresta's sister, and when she took me on tour with the GSS you were the kindest person to me!! I was only 16, and you were my friend!! May you now find peace within, and continue to sing with the angels!!!
Nina Iovino
October 15, 2010
Dear, dear Walter!
You not only supported the GSS with your beautiful deep voice but with your personality, your kindness and personal strength. Thank you for enriching my life - may your journey home be joyous.
Big hug
Oresta Cybriwsky
October 15, 2010
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
Stephanie Mitchell
October 14, 2010
Walter Richardson was that rarest of human beings - a true
free spirit, a marvelous talent, universally loved, and a genuinely
happy man. Rest well, Walt.
Mukund and Mary Marathe
October 14, 2010
We are deeply saddened by Walter's passing and we offer our most sincere sympathy to his family. We knew Walter through the Gregg Smith Singers and cherished our friendship with him. I'm sure he's already adding his wonderful bass voice to the Heavenly Gospel Choir!
Max & Jil Galloway
October 14, 2010
Walter had the strongest arms to hug, the brightest smile to cheer and the most generous heart to love, as well as the most beautiful voice that will forever sing in my memories. We shattered boundaries together singing a romantic duet on tour all over the south; the tall handsome black guy and the ditzy blonde who ended the number sitting on his knee! We could hear gasps from the audience sometimes, and we took such wicked pleasure in it. In France at receptions after concerts, the people wouldn't leave him alone until he sang Old Man River every night in every little town. May you have great audiences and lots of fun reunions over there, dear, dear friend.
April Lindevald
October 14, 2010
Walter was a noble soul whose wonderful voice, delightful personality, and endearing friendship will stay with me for the rest of my life. He will be sorely missed by every singer in New York who had the good fortune to know him. Those of us in the Gregg Smith Singers were especially lucky to have him in our midst so frequently for more than 20 years.
October 14, 2010
I had the pleasure of having Walter "sing in my ear" during my GSS days. What a beautiful voice and such a gentle soul. He had the voice of Neptune as I used to say. He was dearly loved will be missed. My condolences to his family and loved ones. Valerie Vollmer
October 14, 2010
As the days and weeks pass, and as you return to life's routine, may you continue to feel comforted by the love and support of family and friends.
Rev. George B. Woods Sr.
October 14, 2010
I would like to offer my deepest sympathy to Walter's family. I went to school with Walter and Jerry starting in the first grade through high school. I notified another of our former classmates, Frank Moulos, about Walter's passing, and Frank said that "Walter was a good friend to all of us". That sums up how Walter lived his life. He was truly a
nice guy and a good friend.
Dave Duck
October 12, 2010
I am saddened tonight to learn of Walter's passing. He was a gifted singer with a wonderful bass voice as well as a terrific, gracious person. He enjoyed riding his bicycle between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. He sure got around. Walter made everyone feel comfortable, including the new comers to the chorus. The musical world has suffered a great loss, with the loss of Walter. I am not a relative, just a friend through summer music experiences with the Gregg Smith Singers.
Becky Richardson
October 11, 2010
Offering our deepest condolences during this difficult time.
Rhoden Memorial Home
October 11, 2010
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