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Originally published December 6, 2009 at 12:13 AM | Page modified April 13, 2010 at 11:14 AM

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Officer Gregory Richards: Loving family man was 'the golden boy'

Lakewood police Officer Gregory Richards, 42, was the glass-full guy, the one who saw the better half of any situation, says his widow.

Seattle Times staff reporter

How to help

The Lakewood Police Independent Guild is taking donations for the families of the four slain officers.

Police Guild: Checks can be made to the LPIG Benevolent Fund and sent to P.O. Box 99579, Lakewood, WA 98499. Donations also can be made online at

Forza Coffee: Forza Coffee, the site of last Sunday's shootings, has set up donation boxes at its stores. Donations also can be made at the Forza Web site,

Tuesday's service

The memorial service for the four Lakewood police officers will be at the Tacoma Dome at 1 p.m., preceded by a procession. For a map of the procession route, go to

Procession: The procession will begin at 10 a.m. at McChord Air Force Base's north gate. It will go through Lakewood to the Lakewood Police Department, where the families of the slain officers and the Lakewood police will join the procession. They then will proceed to the Tacoma Dome.

Memorial service: The service is open to the public, but there will be limited seating. Officials recommend that the public select a spot along the processional route to pay their respects or attend a memorial-service remote site, such as Pacific Lutheran University's Olson Auditorium. Source: Pierce County

Coverage from the days following the Lakewood shootings

Tuesday memorial to four officers comes together swiftly

Lakewood Officer Tina Griswold was a 'ball of fire' in a tiny package

A path to murder: The story of Maurice Clemmons

Gallery | Maurice Clemmons: Path to Murder

Officer Gregory Richards was 'the golden boy'

Officer Richards' wife knew he would do his duty, no matter what

Lakewood Police Officer Ronald Owens was always smiling

Prosecutors want Clemmons' sister held in custody

Clemmons' sister taken into custody in courtroom

Clemmons repeatedly slipped through the cracks

Bank accounts may be sign Clemmons planned getaway

Lakewood Police Sgt. Mark Renninger was devoted to family, dedicated to police work

Bail-bond agents gamble on unknown

Clemmons' sister arrested during court hearing

Repeat offenders would be denied bail under measure

Nicole Brodeur | Help is coming for aunt

Clemmons traveled to meet New York minister, citing God's instructions

Clemmons' half-brother charged with helping killer elude police

Clemmons investigated by drug enforcement authorities after he moved here in 2004

More than 20,000 people expected at Tuesday's memorial for officers

Arkansas governor and Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire confer on parolees, Clemmons

Coffee shop where officers killed remains closed

Details on Tuesday memorial for four slain officers

Trusted aunt chose to do the 'right thing'

Clemmons' driver denies knowledge of plot to kill

Over 2,000 attend Lakewood vigil for 4 slain officers

Graham neighborhood embraces grieving family

Alleged accomplice used an alias

Coffee shop where officers killed remains closed

Who leaked photo of Clemmons' body? Investigations launched

Clemmons couldn't be held after 'safety net' dissolved

Calendar of memorials and vigils for slain Lakewood officers

Loyal friends, family helped Clemmons flee police

Gregoire: no more Arkansas parolees

Alleged getaway driver in officers' slaying could face murder charges

Uncle: 'He was all about money ... suddenly, he was all about God'

Routine stolen-car check led to Lakewood police-slaying suspect

Danny Westneat | Fixing blame won't fix this mess

Jerry Large | Answers more than skin deep

Public brings flowers, candles, prayers for fallen officers

E-mails show Washington state battled to keep Clemmons in custody

States at odds over warrant that might have kept Clemmons in jail

2 men charged, several others suspected of aiding alleged cop killer

Lakewood police shooting suspect shot dead by police in South Seattle early this morning

Memorial for slain officers to be next Tuesday at Tacoma Dome

Outpouring of support for families of slain officers grows

Four days in May set stage for Sunday's tragedy

Clemmons' diagnosis: stress

Persuasive appeal helped Clemmons win clemency

Political death blow for Huckabee?

How you can help

Law-enforcement officials believe Clemmons has been sheltered by family, friends

Attack on Lakewood police likely worst in state history

Slain Lakewood officers leave holes in community fabric

Furious hunt for suspect in Lakewood police slayings creates unease for black men

Grief, gratitude for slain officers

'Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom': Neighbors describe shooting of suspect

Nicole Brodeur: Breathless in Leschi — and it's not the view

RAW VIDEO: Scene where Clemmons shot by police

AUDIO | Suspect killed in Seattle

Interactive map and timeline

See the latest tweets on #WAshooting, #lakeshoot and #WAshoot

Gallery | Maurice Clemmons Killed, Community Mourns Slain Officers

Gallery | Ceda Clemmons' Damaged Home

Monday coverage

Suspect released in Arkansas after claiming he had changed

Gallery | Police search for suspected cop killer

Gallery | Lakewood police officers killed

Video | Community reflects on slain police

Video | Police shooting: Man who helped baristas

Video | SPD Det. Jeff Kappel speaks about 11-hour standoff

Brenton family statement on slain Lakewood officers

Latest on Lakewood shooting: Police searching near Dr. José Rizal Park

Police still searching for suspected cop killer

Sunday coverage

Police union sets up fund for slain officers

Former Arkansas Gov. Huckabee has controversial record of freeing criminals

Lakewood Police Department created just 5 years ago

Police again see themselves as targets

Slain officers respected for careers, family life

Lakewood police slayings appear to be worst of their kind in state history

Shocked, grieving community holds vigil for officers

Coffee house owner: Shootings 'hit close to home'

Maurice Clemmons clemency and parole documents (PDF)

Statement from Mayor Douglas Richardson and City Manager Andrew Neiditz (PDF)

City of Lakewood identifies officers (PDF)

Related links

Law justifying use of deadly force

Facebook page honoring fallen officers | Eyewitness accounts

Video | Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer discusses Lakewood slaying

They called him Perma-grin for the smile seemingly always on his face.

Officer Gregory Richards, 42, was the glass-is-half-full guy, the one who saw the better half of any situation, said his widow, Kelly. Married nearly 18 years ago, she met Officer Richards at the H.D. Hotspurs bar in Kent, when she turned 21 and was old enough to go out dancing with her girlfriends at a club.

She was working at a gas station, selling sandwiches and working the cash register. He was working as a timber grader for Simpson Timber. He was different from other men she had dated, she said: almost angelic.

"He was too good to be true, almost. I thought, what the heck, I am going to get him," Richards said. And as for her friends? "They all said, 'We were so jealous of you, we all wanted a Greg,' " she said. "And I had him.


Born in Lynwood, Calif., on Jan. 4, 1967, Officer Richards began playing the drums at age 8, developing what would become a lifelong passion for music.

He played in the marching band at Glen A. Wilson High School in Hacienda Heights, Calif., where he graduated in 1985. No ho-hum school ensemble, the band traveled all the way to Washington, D.C., to play for the second inaugural of President Reagan.

As an adult, drumming in a rock band was his release and fun — the only thing he liked better than a big slice of Costco apple pie, attacking projects in his Graham, Pierce County, yard, or playing with his three children, Kelly said.

"He could be somebody different behind the drum set. He was a rocker at heart; that was his wild side," she said.

After high school, he enlisted in the Army in 1985 and served in the infantry until 1989 at Fort Lewis, in C Company, 2nd Battalion. He earned a Good Conduct Medal, a humanitarian-service medal and a marksman badge.

Officer Richards tried out for the state patrol, but didn't get in. "He said, 'I guess I wasn't supposed to be a cop,' " Kelly said. But he tried again at the Kent police force and started working there in 2001. He transferred to the Lakewood force in 2004.

He took to police work, mostly enjoying the friendships with his fellow officers. "He loved going to work every single day," Kelly said.

But then, Officer Richards was that way, finding a way to enjoy just about anything — and make things better for the people around him, his friends and family said. "When I was in Vietnam, he sent me an In-N-Out Burger in a coffee can," said his brother Gary, of Homeland, Calif., who shared a lust for the chain's burgers with Officer Richards.

"It took about two weeks to get there," he recalled. "I didn't dare eat it, it wasn't in real good shape. But that was the most awesome thing."

His sister Gabrielle Boole of Puyallup baby-sat Officer Richards when he was a toddler. It made sense to her that the baby brother of the family wound up being a cop. "He was the golden boy. I was the one in trouble, and he was the one telling on me," Boole said. "He was kind of a policeman back then. He was just the sweetest little kid, always smiling and laughing, as he was as an adult."

Everyone talks about his sense of humor, even his kids. "He was a weirdo, in a good way," said 15-year old daughter Jami-Mae, high praise from any teenager. "He would dance in front of the TV while you were trying to watch it."

Officer Richards and his family moved around a lot, said Barbara Belshay of Graham, a friend of Kelly's since grade school. "It was get a house, sell a house, rent a place. They could never find the right one; it was too much, or the school wasn't good; it was always something," she said.

They finally found the right house in Graham just about a year ago and threw themselves into redoing the yard.

With Kelly a stay-at-home mom and Officer Richards on a police officer's pay, the couple couldn't afford ornamental stonework. So they gathered rocks from vacant lots in a wheelbarrow until their hands blistered, to decorate beauty-bark accents in the yard.

Next came a gazebo, made by Officer Richards with help from friends and neighbors — and so close to being complete. He just finished putting in a cement parking pad for his cruiser. "He loved that patrol car; he kept it so clean," Kelly said. "It was spotless. He would be out there vacuuming it."

The Richardses loved everything about their new home, Belshay said: "They liked the neighbors, and the house was big enough and the payment was right. It was close to family, and the schools were good. They loved it here."

A needlepoint scroll hanging in their kitchen seemed to say it all: "Having a place to go: a home. Having someone to love: a family. Having both: a blessing."

Kelly said her husband often told her: "I could die tomorrow, I'd be happy. I have everything I want."

Before he died, Officer Richards was the one who got off the shot that hit Maurice Clemmons in the abdomen.

Among the hardest things for Kelly to face are her husband's uniforms, still hanging in the closet, she said. And this: "I keep thinking he is going to come in the door."

Besides his wife Kelly, sister Gabrielle, brother Gary, and daughter Jami-Mae, Officer Richards is survived by his father, James, of Peoria, Ariz.; son Austin, 16; son Gavin, 10; sister Gayle Goellner, of Moorpark, Calif.; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his mother, Freda Mae Bouchard.

Lynda V. Mapes: 206-464-2736 or

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