Make a joyful noise (WITH GALLERY)

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Lloyd Richmond, with his daughter, Tammy Smith, watches the choir at Zoar Baptist Church in Coal Grove as they sing at an event in honor of his upcoming 103rd birthday this week. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

Richmond honored by his church for his 103rd birthday

COAL GROVE — He was born on May 27, 1920 and Lloyd Richmond spoke of what comes to mind when he is asked of the highlight of his life.

“For me, the high spot in my life is here in this church and at Coal Grove high school,” he told the crowd gathered at Zoar Baptist Church on Sunday.

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Richmond, who served as the church’s choir director for 60 years and is the oldest member of their congregation, was back in town, invited by the church for an event honoring him ahead of his 103rd birthday, coming up on Saturday.

Richmond’s long life is a rich one, filled with many memories, whether it was serving his country in World War II, working as a teacher and librarian in Dawson-Bryant, South Point and Rock Hill schools, writing children’s books and songs or being the honorary grand marshal of last year’s Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day parade.

Lloyd Richmond speaks with members of Zoar Baptist Church at a reception following an event on Sunday in honor of his upcoming 103rd birthday this week. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

Richmond, the guest of honor, sat in the church’s front pew for the event, accompanied by his daughter, Tammy Smith, and the church’s pastor, Jim Beals.

“This is a very special man and friend to many of us gathered here,” Beals said at the start of the service, in which the church’s choir sang, under direction of Terry Castle, sang songs from the folder used by Richmond during his tenure.

Beals read from Psalms 85 and 100, in which the Bible says to “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord,” something that was exemplified by Richmond’s life’s works.

“He has been such a blessing to us for so many years,” Beals said.

Following a few songs, Richmond got up to speak, bringing laughs to the congregation with his lively talk, which was broken into two segments, to give him a break.

“It doesn’t take much to wear me out,” Richmond said. “I’m only 103.”

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He spoke of a typical morning for him, which he said he starts by telling God, “Thank you for another day.”

He said he then has breakfast at home. 

“In case you were wondering what I eat for breakfast — most don’t care — it’s corn flakes with brown sugar,” Richmond said. “And it has to be brown sugar.”

Following breakfast, Richmond said he then feeds his cat, Oreo, giving him his favorite food, Temptations.

“I’ve got him spoiled,” he said. “I have to stand there while he eats. I don’t mean to talk so much about my cat, but that’s a part of me.”

After breakfast, Richmond said he then visits his favorite restaurant most days.

“You may have heard of it — McDonalds,” he said.

Richmond, who now lives in Barboursville, with his daughter, made the news in 2020, when the restaurant hosted a 100th birthday party for him.

“That was worth it, wasn’t it,” Beals said to the crowd, who enjoyed Richmond’s talk.

Pastor Jim Beals, right, speaks with Lloyd Richmond and his daughter, Tammy Smith, before the start of an event on Sunday in honor of his upcoming 103rd birthday this week. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

Following that, they sang more songs, and then members of the congregation spoke of the influence and impact the man had on their lives.

They recalled his meticulous work as an instructor of piano lessons and the way he would type out labels on books for students at each level of instruction.

His faith was well-known, with members saying as long as they have known him, “he has held up the name of Christ” and that they could not remember him not praying before something needed to be done.

At the close of the service, Richmond spoke again, expressing his appreciation for the event.

“I’m very thankful to be here tonight and tankful to Jim for inviting me,” he said.

Beals asked those in the choir for a show of hands of those who has sung under Richmond, and nearly everyone responded in the affirmative.

The longtime director was then invited to direct them for a final song, “The Tomb is Empty,” which they said he could do so from his pew, as they could see him.

But Richmond insisted on taking his old spot in the front and ascended the steps to lead them.

“You’ve never seen a person who is 103 years old lead a choir,” Beals remarked after Richmond had finished, not missing a beat in his old role.

And the director again expressed his thanks.

“Choir, you did great!” Richmond said.

Following the service, a reception and fellowship, along with a birthday cake, took place in the church’s activity building.