AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Retired Fire Chief Curtis Vance Richards passed away on Sunday, January 12, 2020, at the age of 87. Chief Richards was a caring husband, father and grandfather. Additionally, he was an Amarillo Fire Department icon, serving as Fire Chief of AFD for 23 years (from 1973 to 1996). Services will be held on Saturday, January 18, at 11 a.m., at Trinity Fellowship Church, 5000 Hollywood Rd., and will receive full Fire Department Honors.
Richards served the citizens of Amarillo as a firefighter for 42 years (1954 – 1996). During his career, he responded to several notable fires including the Capitol Theatre Fire in 1954 and the Amarillo High School fire in 1970. Like any proud firefighter, Chief Richards often recalled memories of riding a 1928 model Pumper truck to his friends and family.
Chief Richards became the seventh Fire Chief in the history of AFD, dating back to 1897. Interestingly, he was appointed to the position of Fire Chief from the rank of Captain, leading the department for more than two decades. During his tenure, Chief Richards prioritized the growth and maintenance of the department’s fleet of fire trucks as well as hiring and developing members of the department – many of whom lead this department today. Chief Richards also served as President of the Texas Fire Chiefs Association in 1987. He was also a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, Southwestern Fire Chiefs Association and the National Fire Department Association.
Chief Richards was known for telling others, “You can achieve anything in life if you put effort into it.” Chief Richards personified these words. He was born on November 30, 1932 in Eli, Texas, a small farming community in Northeastern Hall County. The name of the town was derived from a small railroad station that, for many years, was labeled Elite, TX. After serving in the United States Air Force and then as a firefighter in Amarillo, all who knew Chief Richards would agree that he, in fact, was elite.
Chief Richards was preceded in death by his wife, Wanda, in 2017, and his son, Randy Richards. He leaves behind many friends and family who loved him dearly. He also leaves behind a Fire Department and a brotherhood of firefighters who salute him for his work in molding AFD into what it is today.
Chief Richards’ funeral will receive full Fire Department Honors, including AFD Honor Guard detail, AFD Pipes and Drums, Fire Truck escort and uniformed personnel to honor his service to our department and to the City of Amarillo.