James William Richardson

ORRINGTON - James William Richardson, died March 29, 2013, at a Bangor health care facility, as the result of years of fighting diabetes and heart disease. He was born Feb 15, 1931, in Bangor, the son of William A. and Mary Ellen (Pendleton) Richardson.

He attended Hampden schools through the early years, then when his father was transferred to Merrill Trust Co. branch in Dover-Foxcroft, he attended the schools there. Jim finished school as senior class president in 1949. After graduating from high school he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. After serving 20 years he retired from the Navy in 1970 in the grade of Chief Petty Officer. Subsequently, he earned an associate degree from College of Lake County in Illinois in 1972 and a bachelor's in history with high distinction from the University of Wisconsin in 1974. Following his retirement from active military service he spent more than a decade as a boat mechanic and service manager at various marina's on the Great Lakes. He owned and operated a wood working business and taught evening classes at a nearby community college. He was a substitute teacher in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois until he secured a full time teaching job at a junior high school. Health problems forced him to retire from that profession in 1982. He derived much pleasure and satisfaction in joining several local little theater groups in Illinois and Wisconsin. In 1991 he moved with his father back to Dover-Foxcroft and upon settling there again he went hunting for a little theater company. After trying smaller companies, he landed the role of Big Daddy in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." It was a smashing success and the play was held over for the first time in years. Several highly popular roles followed, such as Mordechai Weiss, star of "A Shayna Maidel" which was held over on Winterport Open Stage. His last great role was as Norman Thayer Jr. in "On Golden Pond". This too was held over with standing room only! As long as Shakespeare on the River ran, Jim did whatever was asked of him. Acting was in his blood! Jim loved the outdoors especially canoeing, often going on camping and canoe trips alone, but also taking his boys and son-in-law up to Quetico Provincial Park in the wilderness of Canada. His hobbies included sailing, RVing and researching family genealogies back to the early 1800s but in the end it was acting that he loved the most. Jim was a shy, solitary, gentle man, who loved nature and every cat he ever met.

Chief Richardson is survived by his wife and longtime companion, Betty Shibles; five children, Michelle and husband, Tom Jansen, Ronda and husband, Jim Buttera, Shirleen and husband, Dave Peschke, William and wife, Nicole and Andrew, all living in the Chicago area; 13 grandchildren; and 10 great-children.

Chief Richardson will be buried at sea with full military honors. There will be no other services. Arrangements are by Kiley & Foley Funeral Service, 69 State St., Brewer. Condolences may be offered to his family at www.kileyandfoley.com.

Published in BDN Maine on Apr. 1, 2013