Channing Orr Richards

November 14, 2020

CHARLOTTE – Channing Orr Richards, 79, son of the late Margaret Kercheval Murnan and Channing Leathers Richards passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family from complications of Parkinson’s disease on Saturday, November 14, 2020.

Chan was a great man, a devoted brother, husband, father and grandfather as well as a soft-spoken leader in the Charlotte legal community.

Chan was a member of the Myers Park High School class of 1959, going on to graduate from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 1963.  A lifelong Tar Heel, he frequently joked that he received his education from UNC and went to trade school at Duke University School of Law, where he earned his JD in 1966.  He served in the United States Navy JAG Corp and loved the Navy so much, he remained in the reserves, retiring as a Commander.

He began the practice of law in Charlotte at DeLaney, Millette and DeArmon, and subsequently formed a partnership with Neil Williams, Jim Martin and Phil Howerton.  In 1976, he established Essex Richards PA with partner Ken Essex in the Talliaferro House, a Victorian home that they moved from College Street to East Blvd.  Two decades later, the firm presciently relocated to the South End where the firm served as an anchor for development in the area.  Chan was a voice of reason in the legal community, serving as Chair of the Bar Ethics Committee.  His briefs were written in clear, concise prose in which his philosophy of helping those in need was unmistakable.

While his commitment to the legal profession was unwavering, he was equally committed to his family.  Chan loved to watch his kids pursue what they loved; he never missed a track meet or a soccer game.  He routinely drove hours to surprise his daughter Stuart at her college soccer games.  Family vacations were sacred, and all work would have to wait.  His family always knew they came first.

In 2006, Chan retired and moved with his wife Sallye to Bald Head Island where they built a home two decades earlier. Chan loved to fish the creeks and go deep-sea fishing with his son, Chan, on his boat “Laughing Gull.”  Chan and Sallye enjoyed full-time residency at Bald Head for the better part of ten years.  Each day, they enjoyed their afternoon happy hour with friends at the dog park.

Chan loved the many family pets especially dogs, Satchel, Billy Bob and Daisy; he learned to love cats when Oleander entered his life.  He was an all-star first baseman at Myers Park High and as an adult, he coached Babe Ruth teams with his brother John.  They had the good fortune to coach Mike Fox, the longtime UNC baseball coach.  Mike recently gave Chan an inscribed baseball that read, “Thank you for coaching me so well many years ago. Those lessons carried over!”

Chan is survived by his loving wife of fifty years, Sallye Tathwell Richards; children, Channing Leathers Richards II and husband, Brandon Hagar and Gwynne Stuart Richards Pfeifer and husband, Jay Pfeifer; grandchildren, Channing Elizabeth Pfeifer and Charles Tathwell Pfeifer; brother, John Richards and wife, Ann and sister, Edith R. Salmony and husband, Steve.  He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Gwynne Tathwell Whitley and husband, Craig and brother-in-law, Stuart Tathwell and wife, Sally as well as many nieces, nephews and other family members.

The family would like to thank caregivers, Elizabeth Burris and Shenna Scott, Dr.'s Charles Ferree, Dale Owen and Catherine Ferrara and Hospice and Palliative Care Charlotte Region.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Chan’s name to Michael J. Fox Foundation, Donation Processing, P.O. Box 5014, Hagerstown, MD, 21741-5014 or Selwyn Avenue Presbyterian Church, 2929 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, NC 28209.

A private memorial service will be held at 11:30 AM on Thursday, November 19, 2020 at Selwyn Avenue Presbyterian Church. The service will be livestreamed:  Interment will be private at Evergreen Cemetery.

Arrangements are in the care of Kenneth W. Poe Funeral & Cremation Service, 1321 Berkeley Ave., Charlotte, NC 28204; (704) 641-7606. Online condolences can be shared at

Share your memories & condolences


  • Walter Dellinger

    We were classmates at Myers Park High and friends, and once roommates at UNC Chapel Hill. I listed myself here as “friend” but I really wanted to say “student.” Chan taught me so much. As I reflect on Chan, I realize how ethics and character were so deeply ingrained in him that being with him was a constant life lesson. It’s not that I recall specific instances but rather than thinking to myself “what would Chan do?” would always guide me in the right direction. He never knew how much he was my teacher. Blessed by Chan Richards.

  • Judy and Henry Goldman

    Dear Sally,

    We were so sorry to hear about Chan. We're thinking of you and remembering our friendship from knowing you at Country Day so many years ago. Sincere and heartfelt condolences to you and your son, Chan, whom we remember from Mike's' class.

    Judy and Henry

  • Fritz Mercer

    I was very sorry to hear of Channing’s passing. Great guy, one of the best and most ethical attorneys I have ever known and just a pleasure to deal with on those “difficult cases”. When I resigned as Public Defender and went into private practice we attended some seminars together and shared notes on our practices. After I went on the bench we took separate paths and only saw each other at bar functions, but i
    always enjoyed his company. He was the epitome of the old term-“ a true Southern gentleman”.
    Fritz Mercer

  • Josh Levine

    Mrs. Richards, Chan, Stuart and family,
    My sincerest condolences for your loss. I have fond memories of my time with Mr. Richards and the family. He was always patient, generous and kind. I remember him being soft spoken but carrying a presence that was comforting. I think fondly of my time with your family at Bald Head and Mr. Richards sharing with me his love of fishing as we ventured out on the Laughing Gull. My thoughts are with all of you.
    Best Regards,
    Josh Levine

  • Melinda Sikes Fair

    Bald Head's the place that I most like to be,
    The towering lighthouse, my home by the sea.
    Just give me my boat and all of my gear,
    The mackerel are plenty, so I'm outta here!

    Rest in peace, old friend.

  • Bonnie Currie Gilbert

    I have known Chan since elementary school at Eastover . He was a patrol boy and even then I knew he was smart and kind. We also went to MPHS together where Chan was a quiet but steady leader and of course a great baseball player. All of us who knew Chan had a wise and supportive friend forever. Thrilled he married Sallye who also went to school with us and was known for her brilliance and sweet spirit. Michael joins me in sending our sympathy and love to all the family. Bonnie and Michael Gilbert

  • Georgia L. Knight

    My love and sympathy to everyone mentioned in the obituary of one of most outstanding men I have ever known. As a seventeen year old, I became a friend and future member of the Richards family. February, 1964. I cannot convey how much love and respect I have for the Richards family. My heart is with each of you as we remember Chan.

  • Jerry Parnell

    Chan was one of the finest lawyers I’ve ever known. He and I had several domestic cases together over the years. Although our clients, married couples in the middle of divorcing, were usually intensely unhappy with each other, Chan and I never had a harsh word between us. He was a joy to work with. I miss him greatly.

    Jerry Parnell

  • Mac Alexander

    Sally, I was saddened to read about the loss of your dear Cha and I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve seen him and you. I’m glad, though, that his years of suffering are over and that Chan is at peace. I hope for your peace as well. Just know their are many life long friends of the two of you who are thinking and praying for your well being. You may know I lost the love of my life, Jo, two weeks ago. She also suffered greatly for many years, but like Chan is happily rejoicing in a place where we will one day join them. Peace be with you. Mac Alexander

  • Stuart Tathwell

    I will always remember Chan as a warm and welcoming family man when I had the occasion to visit Chan, Sallye, Stuart, and Chan, in Charlotte, and Bald Head Island, N.C.
    Chan was loved by all the members of the Tathwell family. We shared many happy times together, at Thanksgiving, the beach, and in Charlotte.
    Chan's love of, and talent for the game of baseball is carried on by his grandson Charlie, who is also a talented player in Myers Park Little League baseball.
    May the many fond memories of Chan's wonderful life be in the minds of family and friends as we celebrate a life well lived.

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