If you were to walk into the Camdenton McDonald's on any given day between 7:30 and 9 a.m., chances are you will see a group of locals sitting at a round table laughing, sharing stories and relishing on the latest gossip. The obvious leader of the pack is no other than 92-year-old Grant Richards. His late father, G.T. Richards, was known as "The Wolfe."


If you were to walk into the Camdenton McDonald's on any given day between 7:30 and 9 a.m., chances are you will see a group of locals sitting at a round table laughing, sharing stories and relishing on the latest gossip. The obvious leader of the pack is no other than 92-year-old Grant Richards. His late father, G.T. Richards, was known as "The Wolfe."

The Richards moved to Camdenton in 1937. They found their way to Missouri from Michigan. The Richards were in the newspaper business, but that was not always the Wolfe's dream.

"My dad was a preacher," Richards recalled. He described his father as a preacher in the sense that he would go out into the community and start churches in people's homes. When the church decided to replace some of the older men with younger ones, the Wolfe did not know what to do. One of his friends was in the newspaper business and asked him to join him and start a paper.

"I don't know anything about newspapers," Richards remembered his dad saying.
His friend assured him that he would teach him and it went from there. That was how the Bunxton Eagle got its start.

The family decided to move to the Camdenton area in 1937 and open the Reveille, which is now known as the Lake Sun Leader. As his family was transitioning into life in the lake area, Richards was graduating from high school in Bunxton all while keeping the Eagle alive. "I was the youngest editor in the state of Missiouri," he said with pride. After he graduated and left Bunxton, the paper closed.

Richards joined the U.S. Navy and was away for a few years before returning to the Camdenton area to join the family business. In the meantime, he married his sweetheart, Francis Marie, whom he met at a high school baseball game.

"I thought she was so pretty. I just had to go out with her," he recalled.

He married her when he first joined "the service" as he called it. He remembers being engaged and needing to get home for the wedding. He had yet to be sworn in and said they were not going to let him off.

"I told them either they were going to give me time off or I was going anyway," Richards said. Needless to say, he got his ten days of vacation and was able to marry his Francis Marie like he had planned.

"I done everything," Richards said of his time at the Reveille. Richards followed in his father's footsteps and had his hand in just about everything at the paper.

Richards’ life seemed to revolve around his family, the newspaper and Rotary. The Wolfe began the Camdenton Rotary club with a friend in 1937. Richards joined in 1945 when he returned to the area. Almost 67 years later, he is still an active member and has yet to miss a meeting. If he has to be out of town for any reason, he is sure to make it up by attending a meeting at another area Rotary Club.

"My dad had perfect attendance till he died. That was 43 years," recalled Richards. "I used to always tell him, 'I can beat your record cause I'm younger.' It became a habit," he said. And beat the Wolfe's record, he did.
When asked how his father got the nickname, "The Wolfe," he smiled and said, "Want me to tell you the story?" Richards recalled being with his dad and older brother in Bunxton when they came across what they thought was a wolf on the road. Back then, Richards said, wolves were worth a lot of money. So, they loaded up the wolf and took it to town, only to find out that what they thought was a wolf was only a dog. From then on, his dad was known throughout the state as "The Wolfe."

Stories are Richards’ specialty. If you want to know how this came to be or why something is the way it is, chances are Richards will know the answer. And at 92, he still remembers it all.

Richards has been coming to the Camdenton McDonalds for 28 years, ever since it opened. The staff knows him and his crew by name and welcome them daily. While finishing up his cup of coffee, he said, "I've been everywhere and done everything."

After living in the lake area for a while, Richards bought a farm at the edge of Camdenton.

"I always wanted a pony," he said. "But dad always moved to town where I couldn't have a pony," he added. He always told himself that if his kids ever wanted a pony, they would get one. He started raising cattle on his farm and when his son was only three years old, he bought him a pony. He rented a space to keep the pony and would visit it every afternoon after work. Richards remembers taking his son for ice-cream, "We all would get ice-cream. Even the pony," he said. When his daughter was born, she too got a pony. "When they outgrew them, I bought quarter horses." They then began traveling around the country and showing their horses at horse shows. They did very well and have the trophies to show for it, "I must of had a 100 of them."

One of Richards' most memorable stories was his father's coverage of the Ha Ha Tonka castle fire in 1942. Richards was away in the service at the time. His father was in a Rotary meeting at the cafe that is now where Beach Burgers sits. Someone came in and told them that the castle was on fire. Since his dad always had his camera with him, he got in his car and went up there right way.

Richards’ wife died in 2000, leaving behind her husband and two grown children. Their son, Ted is a teacher in the Dallas, Texas area and has two kids of his own. Their daughter, Susan, lives in Kansas City. Richards is gearing up to see his children this weekend during the Memorial Day holiday.

Before leaving McDonald's for the day, Richards left advice for younger generations, "Live good. Have fun," he said simply. His upbeat and young attitude makes it clear that this walking history buff has lived good and still knows how to have fun.