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Ron Richard Rededication Ceremony


On June 13th, 2024 the North End Zone Facility was rededicated as the Ron Richard Athletic Center. The name change suggested by Dan Stanley, Missouri Southern State University alumnus and friend of Ron Richard, was promptly met with unanimous agreement from MSSU’s Board of Governors last November.


Ron Richard was an influential politician that is revered by many as a Missourian Legend. According to the Missouri Times he was the first and only Missourian to serve as the Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives as well as the president pro tempore of the Missouri Senate. Richard served in many political positions starting with Mayor of Joplin in 1994 and ending with his election as president pro tem of the Missouri Senate in 2015. It was in 2015 that for the first time in one hundred years a House speaker was also elected into the Senate. Ron Richard’s dedication to the improvement of Joplin as well as Missouri as a whole is still felt today.


At the rededication ceremony, Stanley gave an honorable heartfelt speech about the character and positive influence that Ron had over not just Joplin, but also the entirety of Missouri. Stanley describes Richard as the “personification of a true public servant.” He goes on to express the impeccable skill Richard had in leading others to embrace his recommendations as something “beyond anything the city and the state had ever seen before.” Stanley also highlighted why he believes the now Ron Richard Athletic Center is the most appropriate place in which to remember his dear friend. Firstly, Stanley attributes Richard as competitive, therefore the center’s competitive spirit filled with dedicated teams working hard through personal sacrifice as something that he would have “relished.” Secondly Richard was extremely involved as a community leader in many groups, organizations and causes. As the center is the host for many such events, it is extremely appropriate to dedicate it to a man that had an immense impact in many groups, organizations, and causes that were fighting for something beyond themselves.


Stanley ended his speech by expressing “it was and is a true honor and privilege to have known Ron Richard.” President of Missouri Southern Dr. Dean Van Galen and Chair of the Missouri Southern Board of Governors, Annita Oplotnick, ended the ceremony by unveiling the new sign that reads “Ron Richard Athletic Center.”  Along with new signage outside of the Ron Richard Athletic Center is a plaque inside the facility to further commemorate Ron Richard. Missouri Southern is extremely grateful for all Ron Richard has done for his community and state.

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