Shirley Vera Richards

January 9, 1934April 8, 2018
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.Shirley “Vee” Vera Biddle Richards was born January 9, 1934, in Columbia County Arkansas, one of eight children born to the late Johnnie (b. 1897-d.1968) and Fellesee Bell Biddle (b.1903-d.1980). While Shirley’s birthdate was recorded as indicated, her mother pronounced January 7 as her date of birth and claimed the error to be made by the midwife! Shirley grew up in the Noxubee community near Emerson, AR, and as a child joined the Elam CME Church, where she accepted Christ as her Savior. Shirley was a member of the 1952 Walker School graduating class and soon after chose nursing as her course of study and career. Shirley attended a nursing program in Little Rock AR and later moved to Detroit MI to join her siblings and start her journey as a young adult. Shirley utilized her nursing skills toward employment in MI, CA, and NV.

During her time in Detroit MI with her domestic partner, Shirley gave birth to Janet Fergerson (Earnest) Casey, Lake in the Hills IL, and Jeffery (Tracey) Fergerson, Colorado Springs, CO. As sometimes happens, this partner-relationship was not meant to be, and Shirley later met the love of her life, Jack Richards. They married on October 11, 1962. During their 55-year union, they nurtured three children, Jack Keith (Rebecca) Richards, and Jennifer Richards (Jonathan) Lightfoot, Las Vegas NV, Victoria E Richards, Pasadena CA. Shirley also became “mom” and confidant to children from Jack’s previous marriage; Mustafa Richards, Debra Richards Jackson Las Vegas, NV, and Jack Jerome (Amanda) Richards, Grand Rapids, MI. Together this loving and strong blended-family loved and cared for Shirley during her illness. Shirley lost her battle with cancer with her family at her side.

Shirley enjoyed travelling. In earlier years, Jack and she would pile the kids in the Airstream and head out. They became familiar with the local mountain ranges, the often hot and dusty roads between Nevada and Arkansas, and ultimately to their own place of solitude in Kingston NV. As the children left home to pursue their own dreams, Shirley became a wonderful travel companion with them. There are thousands of photos of Shirley on the road, barefoot on the Florida beach, sitting quietly on the deck of the Explorer of the Sea on the way to the Caribbean, or at a festival or concert taking photos with some of her favorite artists. She was at home whether in the Garden of the Gods, or in Ravinia Park. Shirley was welcomed wherever she went, whether it was to LA to visit her cousins, or to Connecticut to dine on her favorite shrimp and lobster dish.

“Ask for the old paths that ye hath walked therein and find your soul!” JER 6:16. After hosting a family reunion event in Las Vegas in 1999, Shirley became concerned that the history of our family would not be passed on to next generations. So, she took on the task of research and documentation. One of Shirley’s outstanding accomplishments was her work “A Journey into Bell-Biddle Family Genealogy, and History”. She spent countless hours doing research, finding photos, wills, land deeds, census records and the like. From her research, Shirley created volumes of documents that she maintained and shared with family.

Cooking was one of Shirley’s strong suits, and the family could always count on a delicious meal… greens, roast, spaghetti, hot-water corn bread…. You Name It! Shirley shined in the kitchen.

As a talented seamstress, Shirley could sew just about anything. From wedding gowns and prom dresses to children’s robes and furniture slip covers. She did it all for her family.

And above all, Shirley was a wonderful grandmother who cherished the time she spent with all her grands and great grands. She will always be in their hearts as an example of how to love and how to live, despite what life tosses your way.

Shirley was preceded in death by six of her seven siblings (infants Aaron and Jewell, brothers Elgin, Otha, & John Harvey Biddle, sister, Doris Biddle Hudspeth, one grand child, two great grandchildren and her nephew Ronnie Biddle.

Among those left to cherish her memory and carry on the rich legacy of family love are her children, her beloved husband Jack Richards, sister Virginia Griffin, Detroit Mi, special nephew William Hudspeth, El Dorado AR, grandchildren (Douglas Christopher, Tim, Shawn and Calvin Casey, Phillip, Jason, Aaron, Sabrina, and Kidron Lightfoot, Aubrey and Robert Fergerson, Angelina Richards (Adrian) Lundy, Patricia Richards (Will) Robinson, Jack Anthony Richards, Kelly, Sarah, & Kyle Jackson, Nyeri Richards, Raenell Richards (Wayne) Shirley, Brittany Richards Underwood, and Thomas Gridley, as well as 20 great-grandchildren.

There are many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends who became extremely close to Shirley but are too numerous to name. Please know that Shirley loved, loved, loved you. She was a devoted friend. If she met you once, she knew you for life.

…until we meet again •••••••

An angel sent, a beautiful woman, a strong lover, with a big heart. Who knew having someone like you would make a difference in my life. You sewed me outfits and supported me throughout life, kept me in your prayers when you laid down at night. Even though we did not speak as much as I wish we did, I knew you always loved me. Wishing that I would have spent more time with you, I know that the time I did was well spent and I would not change that. Knowing that you are now resting is all that matters. No more pain, just peace. So, as I wipe my tears away knowing you’re in a better place, just know that I love and miss you. You are an angel sent, a beautiful woman, a strong lover, with a big heart. - Dominique Casey

Thinking of you today, and how you made the world a nicer place from all the special ways you cared about your family, to the thoughtfulness you showed others…And I’m sending Prayers filled with loving appreciation for your warm heart, your kindness, and all the other qualities that made you so very special. - Ariyon Casey


The year was around 1919. My dad was courting my mom and had spent this particular Sunday afternoon visiting with her and a couple of her sisters, at their home near the church. A very severe thunderstorm moved through southern Arkansas that day; dropping a large quantity of rain. He was encouraged by my Grandmother, Ida to stay there until the rain slacked up. By the time the storm eased it was nearly dark and clearly time for him to head for home; a two mile walk. Running part of the time and walking at others. He had to pass the home of his Aunts; “The McClendon Girls”, and it was now dark. With a mile to go; he started to run again. A half mile farther, as he approached a twelve foot wide, eight foot deep creek, called the McClendon Creek, he could hear the water rushing in the stream. He knew where he was! A few more steps and he would be across the wooden bridge and a little closer to home. At that instant a flash of lightening lit up his surroundings and a loud thunderbolt followed. It stopped him in his tracks! It had literally saved his life. The Lightening had lit his path in enough time to show him that the bridge had been washed out. The thankful young man walked back to his Aunt’s home where he spent the night.

My dad was Johnny Biddle. Later that year he married my mom: Fellesee Bell

Shirley Biddle Richards


  • Visitation Monday, April 16, 2018
  • Funeral Service Monday, April 16, 2018
  • Graveside Service Monday, April 16, 2018

Shirley Vera Richards

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Gussie Mae Brown

April 17, 2018

To my Dear friend Shirley. When I first met Shirley we instantly became friends. Your daughter Janet became my daughter & my son Earnest became your son. I'm so thankful God connected us together. I'm gonna miss you dearly. I'm sorry I couldn't be there to say see you later. But I'm glad I gotta chance to talk with you and say I love you my friend. I will see you later my friend. Love, Gussie Mae Brown



Serenity Prayer

God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.