Athletics Leads to Longtime Connection with the University


Bill Richerson

Few people have left as big of an impression on Truman as Bill Richerson (’53, ’54). In a relationship that has spanned more than 60 years with the University, he has occupied the roles of student, athlete, teacher, coach and administrator.

“Watching Truman evolve from a regional state university to a liberal arts and sciences university was something I never envisioned,” he said.

Some of Richerson’s watching of Truman was done from afar. While his ties to the University go back decades, he did not always have roots firmly planted in the area. He spent time in the Army, taught and coached at the high school level in Illinois, obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Utah, and was a teacher and coach at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for five years. Still, his personal history is more entwined with Truman than any place else, and he always found his way back to Kirksville.

A native of Chicago, Ill., coach Red Wade recruited Richerson to play football. He was a running back on the 1952 conference championship team, considered by many to be one of the school’s best ever. That Bulldog squad finished two points shy of a perfect season. Richerson’s connection to the program did not end with his playing days, as he was an assistant coach from 1961-70.

Although he came to Truman for football, Richerson arguably made more of an impact on another sport. Serving as the University golf coach, he led his team to eight consecutive MIAA titles and seven trips to nationals from 1984-91. An eight-time MIAA Coach of the Year, he was inducted into the University’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1988.

As impressive as his athletic contributions to the University may be, Richerson was equally valuable when it came to academics. He was the Health and Exercise Science Department chair from 1975 until his retirement in 1993.

Despite all his professional achievements, Richerson feels his greatest accomplishment was marrying his wife Mary and raising six children. Today, he and Mary split their time between Florida and Illinois, and he still embarks on regular trips back to the place he called home for so long.

“I enjoy my visits to Kirksville to renew old friendships, walk the campus to view the many changes and to see, firsthand, the quality of the student body,” he said. “I have many fond memories of former teachers when I attended Northeast, together with former students and colleagues during my years on the faculty. I have observed the University continue to grow in stature since retirement, and I take pride in feeling that I might have contributed to laying the groundwork for Truman as it continues its quest for excellence.”

Known as an educator who fully invested in his students and players, in retirement Richerson continues to have a giving heart. He does volunteer work at homeless shelters, food pantries and hospitals. He also finds time for reading, traveling, playing golf, conducting coaching clinics and spending time with his 11 grandchildren.

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