Biography of Chester W. Richards
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Chester W. Richards. Members of the Richards family have been active figures in business affairs in Champaign County for over half a century. The name is especially identified with the First National Bank of Urbana, of which the late Patrick Richards was for many years president and of which his son, Chester W. Richards, is now vice-president. Chester W. Richards is a lawyer by profession, and has an extensive general practice in all the courts of this county.
The late Patrick Richards was born at Quebec, Canada, December 17, 1835, but soon after his birth his parents removed to Utica, New York. He was reared in that city, was educated in the public schools, and gained his first opening in the business world as a drug clerk. He was with a very large drug establishment at Utica and remained there several years. He not only performed the routine duties assigned him, but made his position an opportunity, for thorough study and mastery of the details of the business. On reaching his majority he removed to New York City, and had further experience as a prescription clerk. His thrift also enabled him to save a few hundred dollars, and with this comparatively small capital he removed to Champaign County in 1862. His first location was at Tolono. Soon afterwards he opened a small stock of drugs and sundries in that village and employed all the resources of his skill and recent experience to build up a business. His choice of location was fortunate, since the surrounding country was comparatively new and there was a ready demand for his stock of merchandise. His store soon came to be recognized as the leading one of its kind over a large tract of country. His trade grew and at one time his stock inventoried at something more than $17,000. He was also an active citizen and for several terms served as supervisor of his township.
In 1882 Patrick Richards sold out his drug business at Tolono with the intention of retiring. Retired life soon proved tedious, and removing from the village of Tolono to Urbana he acquired stock in and also some share in the management of the First National Bank, which was then, however, a private banking institution. With the incorporation of the First National Bank he became its president, and he held that position until his death on January 1, 1899. At his death the bank had a capital stock of $100,000, and was secure in its position as one of the leading financial concerns of Champaign County.
Patrick Richards was married May 22, 1865, to Amelia I. Morgan, daughter of W. E. Morgan and a native of Fleming County, Kentucky. They became the parents of three children: Gertrude, Clarence M., and Chester W.
Chester W. Richards was born at Urbana, July 28, 1883, about a year after his parents removed to that city. He was educated in the Urbana public schools, graduating from high school in the spring of 1902. Not long afterwards he took up the study of law in the University of Illinois, and received his degree LL. B. in 1906. Mr. Richards has been actively engaged in practice at Urbana since 1907. His law offices are in the First National Bank Building. From 1908 to 1911 he was corporation counsel of the city and since 1911 has been master in chancery of the Circuit Court of the county. Besides the duties of this position, the demands made upon his professional time and energy, and his official relations with the First National Bank, Mr. Richards was further honored and given further responsibilities when on April 17, 1917, he was elected mayor of Urbana.
He has always taken an active part in Republican Party affairs, and is a member of the First Baptist Church, superintendent of its Sunday school, is a Knight Templar Mason and a member of the Knights of Pythias and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Mr. Richards married Miss Angie Casey of Chicago, daughter of Charles E. Casey, a broker of that city. They have two children: Chester William, Jr., and Elizabeth Ann.
Note: Photograph is of Patrick Richards, father of Chester.