In memory of my friend, Lee Richardson, age 74, January 25, 2014
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” – Matthew 4:19. This is one of my favorite verses, and it means that Christians are called to be disciples for Jesus and to tell others about Him. When I think of that verse, one of the first people that comes to mind is Lee Richardson. Whether it was praying for people that he had just met, encouraging others with an uplifting story, cooking for people in his neighborhood, or opening up his home to fishermen, he gave God all the glory in everything he did.
I call Lee a “fisher of fishers” because he would seek out anglers to stay at his home during bass tournaments on West Point Lake. He was not a fisherman, but went out of his way to care for and show God’s love to fishermen. This was one of his many ministries. When B.A.S.S. released their 2011 Elite schedule and Lee saw that West Point was on there, he knew that this would be a great opportunity to have some fisherman stay at his home. He found the Elite Series rookie list on bassmaster.com and decided to reach out to Ryan Said and Jimmy Stricklin. When Lee called Ryan and Jimmy, they were pleasantly surprised at how eager Lee was to have them stay at his lake house free of charge. Without hesitation, they took him up on the offer.
Fast forward two years to the 2013 season: knowing that Ryan and Jimmy were no longer on tour, Lee talked with Ryan about finding other Elite anglers to stay at his home. Ryan put him in touch with Chad Pipkins, Kevin Hawk, and I, and we got everything set up to stay with him for the event. Ryan told us how great of guy Lee was before we ever met him, but we really had no idea. Lee and his wife, Kathy, took southern hospitality to a whole new level. Not only did we have free housing but they cooked for us every meal of the week and went to the store to get us anything we needed.
Mr. Lee prayed for us daily, and rallied his friends and family to join him at the weigh-ins to cheer us on. He talked with us until 11:00 every night standing by our boats in his driveway as we prepped our tackle for the next day. Since I didn’t make the cut, I went to church with Lee and Kathy on Sunday, and Mr. Lee stood up in front of the entire congregation to say some kind words about me. After that week, Lee and Kathy kept in touch with us, cheering us on throughout the season. They even drove up to Detroit to watch our weigh-ins at the final event of the season. More than anything, I appreciate his friendship and the example that he set which has encouraged me to be a stronger Christian.
“I met Lee last year and liked him from the start. His energy and attitude were contagious, and he was always eager to lend a helping hand any way he could. Lee and his wife, Kathy, opened their home and hearts to anglers, including myself, whenever there was a tournament on West Point Lake. I’m glad I had the opportunity to get to know him, because he made me want to be a better person.” – Kevin Hawk
"Mr. Lee is the most genuine person I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Very rarely do you find someone so eager to help and make others feel comfortable. He went out of his way to welcome me into his home, and into his and Kathy's lives. I cannot thank him enough. He will be missed but never forgotten." – Chad Pipkins
"Thank you, Mr. Lee and Kathy, for opening up your home and hearts to us. My time with you are some of my best memories that I will cherish for a lifetime. Mr. Lee was such an inspiration to us all, and I am glad that I was able to experience God’s love through Mr. Lee and Mrs. Kathy. God bless." - Jimmy Stricklin
"Mr. Lee went out of his way to search me out and give his friendship, a place to stay, food to eat, and even more people to make friends with. He asked nothing in return except for my friendship, which I gladly gave. He did what we are all supposed to do, which was always putting others first. Even though I knew him only a short time, it felt like I had known him forever. He was an inspiration to me and I will never forget him. All I can say is "thank you, Mr. Lee." - Ryan Said
“So don’t you be afraid
To show the world your faith
‘Cause your never alone.”
Fishers of Men by Newsboys