On Monday, August 14, 2023 God called Martha Rene Alfred Richards mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt, community leader and sister in Christ, from labor to reward at the blessed age of 96.
She was born November 3, 1926 to the late Ellie Ball Alfred and Beulah Harvey Medious Alfred on the Klondike Sharecrop Plantation in Foxworth, Mississippi. As the seventh of ten children Martha attended school in Mississippi and after the death of her mother graduated from AH Parker High School in Birmingham, AL. In November of 1949, she married Henry Wilson Richards of Columbia, MS. She became mother to his daughter Dorothy Jean Richards. To that union four additional children were born. She, her husband and three children, moved to Farrell, PA in 1952.
Martha studied at the Breland School of Beauty Culture in Mississippi and after relocation, received her certificate from the Atwater School of Beauty Culture Sharon, PA. In 1955 she opened Martha’s Beauty Salon. For twenty-five years she worked as a business woman/entrepreneur on her own and also alongside her late husband at Richards Dry Cleaners.
In 1953 she joined her beloved Friendship Baptist Church where as an active member, she served on the Kitchen Committee, Missionary Board, Trustee Board, was Pastor’s Aide leader, Sunday School Teacher, Choir Member, Deaconess and Mother of the Church.
In 1973, her leadership and vision of a better community inspired neighbors and friends to form the Southwest Gardens Block Club. In 1977, Southwest Gardens Economic Development Corporation, incorporated as a non-profit organization. Over subsequent years through its various programs, many lives were positively impacted. She continued to serve Southwest Gardens until her retirement in 2005. Mother Richards was also founding member of several other organizations including; Hits and Misses Bowling League, The Shenango Valley Initiative, and People in Action. She also paved the way as the first woman member of the Shenango Valley Servicemen,
Mother Richards received awards from numerous organizations including the Frontiers Club; The Farrell Human Relations Commission; Church Women United; The Shenango Valley Coalition of Black Trade Unionist; Mercer County Commission for Women; Black History Month Committee Community Baptist Church; Valley Baptist Church; SV Chamber of Commerce; Mercer County Community Action Agency; Mercer County NAACP, The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond; the Farrell Midget League Cheerleaders; She was honoree at three community tributes.
Mrs. Richards is survived by daughters: Anna Richards (LeRoi Brashears) of Chapel Hill, NC; and Dr. Kimberley Richards of Picayune, MS. Sons: George (Janis) Richards of Angola, Indiana and Henry (Cheryl) Richards of DeSoto, Texas. Grandchildren: Dane Thompson, Michelle Davis, Candi Thompson, Maurice (Patrice) Moore, Vonce Johnson, Jawara (Clarese) Sawyer, Ayinde (Radena) Sawyer, Kimberlee Campbell Richards, Taylor Brashears, Spencer Brashears,; Six great- grandchildren, scores of beloved nieces and nephews, several godchildren, many God-given community children and life-long friends.
She is preceded in death by her parents, her husband, her five brothers, four sisters, daughter, Dorothy Jean Richards Thompson, a grandson she raised, Landon Joseph Kirk Richards and several nieces and nephews.
A wake will be held on Friday August 18th at Friendship Baptist Church, 339 Spearman Avenue Farrell, PA from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Also at the church, on Saturday, August 19th, A Celebration of Her Life will continue with viewing from 9:00am - 9:45am and funeral service at 10:00 am,
Interment will be at Morefield Cemetery followed by a Repass at The Valley Church of God 1957 Pine Hollow Blvd in Hermitage, PA.
Condolences can be received at her home 400 Darr Avenue Farrell
Ministry of comfort entrusted to the L. E. Black, Phillips & Holden Funeral Home.