In memory of

Evelyn Ethel Lamberton Richards, PhD

Nov 18, 1938
Feb 29, 2024


Beloved, Brave, Brilliant

Evelyn Ethel Lamberton Richards died peacefully in the presence of her family on February 29, 2024, at daughter Kathy and Amit Bhatia’s home in Salem, Oregon. She was 92.

The youngest of four children of Austin and Fern Lamberton, Evelyn, or Evie as she preferred to be known, was born November 18, 1931, in Plattsburg, NY, a few miles from the Canadian border in upstate New York. The most influential person during her childhood was her grandmother, Margaret Ann Davison Lamberton, particularly after her mother Fern died of cancer when Evie was almost five. With Austin’s marriage to Elrika Frenya, Evie eventually became the older sister to seven half-sisters and brothers. She remained close to each one of her siblings and their families throughout her life. Evie graduated as valedictorian from Moores Central High School in 1948 and attended Houghton College where she graduated with a BA in History in 1952.

On December 25, 1952, Evie married her college sweetheart, Lawrence H. Richards, at Gammon Chapel in Atlanta, GA, attended by her college roommate and sister-in-law Jean and officiated by Larry’s father, Rev. Dr. Ellis Richards. After a honeymoon in Georgia and Florida, Evie taught high school for six months in New York, determined to pay off her college loan before joining Larry while he served in the US Navy. Following Larry’s call to full-time ministry with the Presbyterian church, Evie and Larry moved to Decatur, Georgia where Larry studied at Columbia Theological Seminary and Evie taught history. In 1957, their eldest daughter Donna Lynn was born, followed in 1959 by their son Daniel Lawrence.

In 1960 Evie and Larry were commissioned by the Presbyterian Church, US (later the PCUSA) to serve the United Mission in Iraq (a coalition of Presbyterian and Reformed churches). The family moved to Baghdad, Iraq to serve with the Iraq Fellowship, teaching at the Baghdad School for Girls, a mission school which pioneered girls’ education in the country. Their son Johnathan Paul was born with spina bifida in May 1963 and died just six weeks later. Jonathan is buried in the British Civil Cemetery in Baghdad. On Thanksgiving Day, 1964, their youngest child Kathryn Joy was born. For the next several years, Evie and Larry worked, taught, and provided hospitality to strangers and co-workers in equal measure. The coping skills needed to continue serving faithfully during political and social unrest and cross-border relationship building were built deep during this time.

1969 brought the closure of the mission schools by the Iraqi government, and all foreign workers were asked to leave Iraq. Evie and her family re-located to Beirut, Lebanon, where they served until 1982. While on home assignment in Louisville, KY in 1971, Evie completed a Master of Education degree. She then taught at the Beirut College for Women (now Lebanese American University), where she developed counseling services in career guidance. One of her favorite projects was a research project which explored the status of employment of women in the Arab world, which was later published and presented at an Association of Women’s Colleges international conference in Singapore. Encouraged by LAU, Evie earned a Specialists Degree in Education and Psychological Services (1977) and later a PhD in Career Development (1987), both from Georgia State University.

After leaving Lebanon during the Israeli invasion of 1982, Evie and Larry were not able to return to live in the Middle East, despite their deep longing to do so. The following years were spent serving as missionaries in residence at the Synod of the Southeast in Atlanta, GA, then in Augusta, GA at Covenant Presbyterian Church and subsequently in Rock Hill, SC until Larry’s retirement from Associate Pastor at Oakland Avenue Presbyterian Church. Evie spent years serving in Stephen Ministry, as co-coordinator for the Iraq Partnership Network, and active in peace work. As always, she remained closely connected with many dear friends and colleagues from Lebanon, Iraq and around the world.

In 2016, Larry and Evie moved to Boise ID to be near to Donna and Thad, living at Salmon Creek Independent Living. She spent much of her time caring for Larry in his final days until his passing in June 2022. Shortly afterwards, she moved to Salem, Oregon to live with Kathy and Amit. Despite the move and her growing health challenges, she maintained her many relationships and enjoyed frequent visits from friends and family.

In each place, Evie’s extraordinary gifts of concern and connectedness for each individual person led to deep and meaningful friendships which she maintained tirelessly, even in the last days of her life. Evie prioritized keeping up with her children, grandchildren, extended family, and friends. Her emails, phone calls, and visits spanned state lines and international borders.

Later in life, Evie spoke often of her heritage, sharing stories of her forbearers whom she felt laid the foundation for her life and work; Armstrong’s, Davison’s, and Lamberton’s. Ever the life-long learner,she enrolled in a creative writing course in her 80’s which resulted in her autobiography, “Sketches of My Life: North Country and Beyond”, a collection of memories and poetry.

While Evie never considered herself a ‘cook’, many remember the signature dishes that she made: Irish Coffee with friends, hummus and pita bread with cucumber and yogurt, standard menus for family meals, and of course, Peanut Butter Pie and Oreo Dirt Pie with gummy worms for the grandchildren, who were also grateful for the unique birthday cakes she made every year for each of them.

Evie developed a love of plants as a young child, enjoying the company of flowers throughout her life. Her favorite flowers were roses, and she enjoyed cultivating a colorful and fragrant garden.

Evie believed that together, she and Larry, could meet the challenges of working in another country and culture. She dedicated her life to resolving issues through dialogue and investing in relationships in the interest of peace and social justice. She was a stalwart supporter of the rights of oppressed and marginalized people and her Christian faith informed all she was and did.

Evelyn is survived by her children Donna Welch (Thad), Dan Richards (Julie), Kathy Richards Bhatia (Amit), her grandchildren Penelope Lynn, Benjamin Welch (Jenna), Elizabeth Gleason (Matt Smith),Matthew Gleason, Kathryn Gleason, Deborah Gleason, Michael Gleason and Savanna Richards, and by great-grandchildren Paxton Jaenichen, Seamus Callahan, Bailey Welch, Preston Welch, Patrick Welch and Willa Kate Welch, as well as her sister-in-law Jean Richards Rose (Bill, deceased), brothers and sisters Bobby (Janet, deceased), Dickie (Almira, deceased), Betty (Lucien), Janice, Sandy (Alton), Jimmy Beverly), Carol (Walter) and many beloved nieces and nephews.

Evelyn is pre-deceased by her husband Lawrence (June 29,2022), her son Jonathan Paul (June 22, 1963), her parents Fern and Austin Lamberton, Stepmother Elrika Frenya Lamberton, and her brothers Raymond, Harold (Trudy) and Don (Irene), brother-in-law David Richards and parents-in-law Edna and Ellis Richards.

A service is planned for the summer of 2024.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a gift in memory of Evelyn to She Is Safe (, organization which works to support women and girls in the Middle East, or a charitable organization of your choice.

Special love to all who enjoyed and loved Evie so well throughout her life. We are thankful to have known and loved her, and she will be fiercely missed.

Service Information

Memorial Service

Summer 2024

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  1. Johnson Funeral Home Staff says:

    Thank you for trusting Johnson Funeral Home with her arrangements.

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