Nov. 2, 2021 marks three years since the tragic death of my former neighbor and longtime church member, Hal Joseph Richard. Hal and I both were raised in the once all-Black community of McNair. Even though I am almost ten years older than Hal, I distinctly remember him as a child/teen/young man and the amazing adult he grew up to be. Hal and I both lived and grew up on Richard Street, in a section of McNair, known to many as French Town. That is because most of the people from Louisiana who originally settled in McNair, lived on or near Richard Street. I have known Hal and his beautiful family basically all of my life and have fond memories of him, his beautiful mother, Myrtis Richard, his father, Carl Richard, (a former Tuskegee Airman Mechanic) and his siblings who like Hal are all well raised wonderful Christian people. If you knew Hal, you knew that he was raised to be a Christian at an early age, attended church every Sunday as a child, teen and adult. Attending church and serving our Lord and Savior was a huge part of Hal’s life. To be more pacific, his mother Myrtis and father Carl made sure that all of their children not only attended church regularly, but were extremely involved in their church in many ways their entire lives. They are a close knit family and like Hal, God is in the center of all their lives.
Hal Joseph Richard was born on May 25, 1953 in Baytown, Texas to the proud parents of Carl and Myrtis Goudeau-Richard. Hal and all of his siblings, Ted, Michele, Donna Kay, Tony, and Elaine grew up in a close knit family environment, surrounded by a host of aunts, uncles, cousins, and many family friends in his hometown of McNair, Texas.
Throughout his life, Hal had a fascination with tinkering with things and building things. That was something that I’m sure he learned from his father. One of his family fond memories of him was, building a go kart and watching him racing it up and down Richard Street. He always had some type of project going or was building something. If he wasn’t creating or working on something, he was busy playing his guitar, or working on his music as a self-taught musician.
Hal was a member of the Baytown Ross S. Sterling High School band, where he played the baritone horn (a low-pitch brass instrument in the saxhorn family). He graduated from Ross S. Sterling High School in 1971. After graduating from high school he attended the University of Houston. While in attendance at U of H, he was offered an opportunity to work for the Diamond Shamrock Oil Company. Through a number of changes within this company, he maintained and grew in his position there for 44 years before retiring in November – 2016.
Hal had a love for music. Throughout his adult life, he played the guitar and sang with many bands which include: The Funk Factory, Magnum Force, Lasar, Nooney and The Zydeco Floaters, Brain Jack and The Zydeco Gamblers, Zydeco Joseph and The H-Town Players, and Collage. One musical group that brought him the most pride was the Holy Family Catholic Church Choir, where he played the guitar and was often a soloist performing his favorite gospel songs and hymns.
Hal, a man of many hobbies, had a great sense of creativity. He enjoyed carpentry; offshore fishing, collecting cars, and helping his brother Tony restore his Corvette. He enjoyed riding motorcycles with family and friends, especially with his wife Denise and with his brothers Ted and Tony.
Hal’s children, nieces and nephews often solicited his help with history and science projects. Due to his ability to create things, he often amazed them and the end results were never less than an A.
Being someone who had a great interest in aviation since a child, as an adult he pursued a pilot’s license at the La Porte Airport.
Two of Hal’s greatest sources of joy were his beloved children, Carly and Jason. He loved being involved in the many things that were going on in their lives, especially Jason’s music career and Carly’s pursuits in acting and education. They enjoyed doing small outings as a family, especially going to restaurants, the movies and sharing new music. Both Carly and Jason truly believe they inherited their creative spirits from their dad, something that he was very proud of.
By true design, Hal met his beloved wife Denise at the Hack Winery in Santa Fe where Zydeco Joseph and the H-Town Players were performing. The two dated for awhile, and were married in 2016. They affectionately called each other “Missy” and “Mistuh”. His wife, Denise always supported Hal in his endeavors, often accompanied him to his gigs and often went on motorcycle rides with him. As a couple they enjoyed traveling, sharing glasses of fine wine, home projects, and time spent with family, lots of laughter and love.
On November 2, 2018, Hal was called home to be with his Lord and Savior, where his soul joined the souls of all the faithful departed. On November 10, 2018, he had a Mass of Christian Burial at Holy Family Catholic Church in McNair/Baytown, Texas – Very Reverend Nixon A. Mullah S.S.J – Officiating Pastor. Interment was at St. Martin de Porres – Holy Family Cemetery in Crosby, Texas.
Hal had an impact on many lives. He is truly missed by his band mates, all who knew him and his loving family.
Because of the way that Hal Joseph Richard lived his life while being on this Planet called Earth and the way he served our Lord and Savior, there is no doubt in my mind and in the minds of others, that Hal is playing a guitar and singing solos in the choir in Heaven. May peace be with you my Brother!
J. Warren Singleton is a local historian and resident of Baytown.