Former PR director at LSU dies at 91

Oscar G. Richard III
Oscar G. Richard III

Oscar Gabriel Richard III, a World War II veteran and member of LSU’s Ole War Skule Hall of Honor, died Tuesday night of natural causes at Baton Rouge General Health Center.

He was 91.

He will be remembered by family members for his humor and enthusiasm toward life, daughter Kathleen Callaghan said Thursday afternoon.

“We’re going to miss him, obviously,” Callaghan said. “We’ve shed our fair share of tears and we’re not through with that.”

Callaghan said family members have spent time since her father’s death reminiscing and telling amusing stories about him.

“He found humor in a lot of situations, but he would say a lot of things that were just funny,” she said.

After retiring as director of public relations at LSU in 1984, Richard continued to be active at home and in the community, Callaghan said.

He enjoyed working in his garden and was an astute amateur historian, lifelong learner and woodworking practitioner, Callaghan said,.

In his woodworking, he eschewed modern techniques for classic ones, such as using dovetailing, a technique of using interlocking notches instead of nails to connect pieces of wood.

Callaghan said she and other family members have several pieces of handmade furniture from her father, like bookshelves and desks.

“If we told him, ‘Daddy, I need a TV cabinet,’ he would build an exquisite piece of art,” Callaghan said.

In 2000, he wrote a memoir of the two years he spent as a prisoner of war in Germany. Callaghan said he loved sending people copies of his book, which sometimes led to friendships through written correspondence.

Among people he wrote letters to and developed relationships with through the book were former German boxing champion Max Schmeling and television journalist and author Tom Brokaw, Callaghan said.

During his years at LSU, Richard developed many friendships he would cultivate throughout his life.

Callaghan said she and other family members would take turns bringing him to LSU home football games, where he would watch the game from his reserved seat in the press box and spend time with friends.

Jim Engster, local radio personality and host of “The Jim Engster Show” on National Public Radio, said he was a student at LSU when he met Richard and the two remained close throughout the years

“He was a man of immense kindness and character,” Engster said.

Engster said one thing people might not know about Richard is that Richard and his late wife, for about 20 years, traveled the country watching Neil Diamond perform at various locales.

“I think that is a layer of fun and frivolity to the serious Oscar that we knew and loved,” Engster said.