Commercial Record

Obituary: Jeffrey Richards, 75

Dr. Jeffrey E. Richards of St. Joseph passed away at 75 from COVID complications on Friday, Dec. 31, 2021.
He was born on May 17, 1946 to Donna (nee Finnegan) and Edward Joseph Richards in Plymouth. He attended a one-room school in Canton Township through the eighth grade, then moved to Ypsilanti and graduated from Roosevelt High School on the campus of Eastern Michigan University.
He completed his undergraduate studies at Eastern, then obtained his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Michigan State University, graduating in 1972.
He began his professional career at the Zeeb Animal Hospital, moving to St. Joseph in 1973 to work at the Freier Animal Hospital. He started his solo practice, The St. Joseph Veterinary Hospital at 2600 Niles Ave. in 1977, moving to 435 Upton Drive 20 years ago and practiced there until his illness.
Jeff was elected to the St. Joseph City Commission in 1984 and served for 37-1/2 years, one of the longest-serving commissioners in the history of the city. He served as Mayor from April 1993- April 1995 and as Mayor Pro tem from April 1991-April 1993.
He was respected for his integrity, courage and loyalty to the city he loved. He called himself a “public servant,” not a politician, advocating for the residents. He represented the city on the Michigan Municipal League from 1994-1997 and was on the MML Board of Trustees.
Professionally, Jeff mentored many students, several of whom went on to become veterinarians themselves. He gave selflessly of his time and expertise to his patients and clients, whom he considered friends and family. You could find him in the office most of his days off, waiting for a sick animal or to chat with a client. His clients responded with love and friendship, always chatting as time permitted.
Jeff trained his whole family to work with him at the office, giving them invaluable experience and income. He was a proud family man who always supported those he loved in many ways.
Jeff and Nancy, his wife of 25 years, worked side by side, many years just the two of them. He was a devoted husband and they made the most of working together daily for many years. A very generous man, he supported those around him with caring compassion, loyalty and love.
Books were his passion and he had quite a collection. He had a fine memory and could talk for hours on sports, politics, movies, authors and tips for living. His friends were very important to him, and together they would solve all the problems of the world.
Jeff was a life member of the American Philatelic Society and many other associations, and a member of First Congregational Church.
Jeff was preceded in death by his mother and father, four sisters, Dr. Kathryn, Nancy, Barbara Richards and Susan Fisher.
He is survived by his wife, Nancy (nee Nieusma) and stepchildren Max Burch, Anna (Jon Biedron) Burch, Ross (Taylor) Burch, adopted son March Richards, brothers in law Tom Fisher, Greg Nieusma Randy (Melinda) Nieusma, grandchildren Lyrah and Benjamin Burch and Julian Claire Biedron, and several nieces and nephews.
A celebration of life service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 7 at First Congregational Church, 2001 Niles Avenue, St. Joseph. Pastor Jeffrey Hubers will officiate. Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday at Starks & Menchinger Chapel, 2650 Niles Road, St. Joseph.
Memorials may be made to the Humane Society of Berrien County, TEC Equestrian Center or First Congregational Church. Those wishing to leave an online condolence may do so at www.starksfamilyfh.com.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Starks & Menchinger Chapel & Cremation Services, (269) 556-9450.

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