Dr. Walter Wiley Richards, who spent 34 years on the faculty of The Baptist College of Florida (formerly Baptist Bible Institute) before being named professor emeritus of Theology and Philosophy upon his retirement, died in Graceville on April 15th.
He is the author of five books, wrote numerous articles and papers, and contributed Sunday School lessons to the Florida Baptist Witness for 27 years.
He also served as pastor of churches in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, and served as an interim pastor 51 times. He led a countless number of revivals, Bible studies and evangelism clinics, and considered leading people to a faith in Christ to be his greatest joy.
Wiley was born June 25, 1932, in the Pleasant Grove community of Pensacola to Walter Judson and Charlie Jones Richards. He was born spiritually when he was 12 years of age when he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior.
After graduation from Pensacola High School, Wiley served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. While he was in the Navy, two important events changed his life. First, he felt and answered God’s call to preach. Second, he married his high school sweetheart, Betty May Hargrave. They have served God together for over 64 years.
Wiley attended Pensacola Junior College, then received his degree from Howard College—now Samford University. He attended New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary where he earned the M.Div. and Th.D. in Historical and Systematic Theology. He later attended Florida State University and received a Master’s of Arts and Ph.D. in Philosophy.
His hobbies included hunting, fishing, singing Gospel songs, playing the violin and guitar, rebuilding cars, oil painting, taxidermy and carving.
Wiley’s home-going service will be at 2 p.m. on April 18th in the R. G. Lee Chapel at The Baptist College of Florida, with Dr. Thomas A. Kinchen, Dr. R. C. Hammack, Dr. Ken Harrison and Dr. Roger Richards officiating. Burial will follow in the Marvin Chapel Cemetery, with U. S. Navy Honors.
Family will receive friends in the R. G. Lee Chapel at The Baptist College of Florida on April 17 from 6-7:30 p.m. Survivors include his wife, Betty, of Graceville; two sons, Walter Glen Richards (Carol), Middlesboro, KY; and Roger Charles Richards (Sandra), Graceville; two daughters, Regina Karen Rozsa (Andrew), Birmingham; and Charlene Joan Wiggins (Stuart), Marianna; nine grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren; one sister, Eulanee Pierce, Gautier, MS; and his Vietnamese family, Richard Hoang (Jeanette), children and grandchildren. His grandsons will serve as pallbearers.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to the Richards’ Scholarship Fund at The Baptist College of Florida, 5400 College Drive, Graceville, FL 32440.