The Board of Trustees, staff and members of The State Historical Society of Missouri are saddened at the passing of one of our most ardent supporters, as well as one of Missouri’s most prominent modern-day public servants. Senator Ron Richard, of Joplin, was instrumental in the effort to build the Society’s Center for Missouri Studies in Columbia. He was a current member of our Board of Trustees and served as co-chair of the Missouri Bicentennial Commission. In 2019, the Board of Trustees named the Center for Missouri Studies Richard Bookstore after Ron and his wife Patty in honor of their commitment to our mission.
Ronald F. Richard was born in Parsons, Kansas, on July 4, 1947. In his youth, his family moved to Chicago, St. Louis, and then to Joplin, Missouri, where he graduated from McAuley Catholic High School in 1965. After high school, he enrolled at Joplin Junior College (now Missouri Southern State University) and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science in 1969. He later earned a Master of Arts degree in History from Southwest Missouri State College (now Missouri State University) in 1971.
In the 1970s, Richard became an active member of Joplin’s business and civic community as President and CEO of C & N Bowling Corporation. After nearly twenty years as a business owner, he decided to enter public service, first as a member of the Joplin City Council, then as mayor of Joplin from 1994 to 1998. In 2002, he won election to the Missouri House of Representatives for the 129th district. During his tenure in the House of Representatives, he was elected Speaker of the House in 2008. Due to term limits, in 2010 Richard ran for and won a seat in the Missouri State Senate, representing the 32nd district. In addition to serving in that body until 2019, he also was elected as Senate Majority Floor Leader in 2012 and as President Pro Tem of the Missouri Senate, serving in that capacity from 2015 to 2019. Richard holds the distinction of being the only person in Missouri history to serve as both Speaker of the House and President Pro Tem of the Senate.