Flowery Branch officials mourned the sudden death of Councilman Fred Richards on Thursday, remembering him as a public servant passionate about improving life in the South Hall town.
The city released a statement announcing Richards’ June 14 death. His obituary said that Richards “passed away suddenly.”
Richards was first elected to the council in April 2012 in a special election. He was re-elected to his first full term in November 2013 and was re-elected in 2017.
“He was someone I could always trust to give me an honest assessment of what I was asking about, not just what you want to hear,” said Flowery Branch Mayor Mike Miller. “I joked with his wife into this morning when I visited with her that he was stubborn, but he was stubborn in a good way.
“If he wanted something and thought it was the right thing to do, he wouldn’t stop until he got it.”
Richards was a retired real estate broker and appraiser. One of his life’s goals was to see his beloved Chicago Cubs win the World Series, Miller noted.
“I don’t think a time went by that he would let me forget that they did win the World Series in his lifetime,” he said.
“Councilman Richards’ guidance and assistance on matters involving the city will be greatly missed by the mayor, the council and the staff,” stated the city’s announcement.
Richards is survived by his wife of 49 years, Hinda Richards of Flowery Branch; son and daughter-in-law, Mark and Sarah Richards of Atlanta; and grandsons, Evan Richards and Adam Richards.
The family will receive friends from 5-7 p.m., Tuesday, June 19, at Flowery Branch City Hall.
Richards, an Illinois native, leaves a legacy in Flowery Branch itself.
“I’m sad that he won’t be able to see the full development of downtown and see it to what he dreamt it could be in its full potential,” Miller said. “That was a passion of his, and up until the day he died, he was working on seeing that through.”
Councilwoman Mary Jones, who sat next to Richards at the council table, said, “He was a first-class person. He was very congenial to work with. All the people liked him, and he’s done a lot of things for the city of Flowery Branch.”
A statement from the city noted that Richards’ dedication could be seen in his work on projects involving the Flowery Branch Bay Park, the Lights Ferry Road roundabout and the new City Hall.
He also served on the Lake Lanier Convention & Visitors Bureau and frequently attended Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce and economic development meetings on behalf of the city, the city said.
“He was a real servant to the people,” Jones said.
On a personal note, she said Richards would drive her to council meetings, “as I don’t get around as much as I used to.”
“He didn’t just (help) me. There’s other people he worked for too, and he did it because he wanted to,” she said.
As the newest City Council member, Amy Farah had only known Richards since January. But she said that was long enough for her to pick up “that he brought a lot of experience from his real estate (background).”
The city’s website states that Richards had retired from a career as real estate broker and appraiser and that his objective on the council was “to change Flowery Branch from just a dot on the map into a destination place where people want to come shop, live, play and work.”
“I knew he loved Flowery Branch,” Farah said. “That was for sure.”
Staff writer Jeff Gill contributed to this report.