The Garden Island
Notice #: 0001114663-01
Funeral Notices

(September 12, 1929 – June 4, 2018)

Monty Richards, Jr. was born in Kohala, Hawaii on September 12, 1929. He passed away while on vacation in San Francisco, California on June 4, 2018. He was 88 years old.

At the time of his birth, his parents, Herbert Montague Richards, Sr. and Logan Mary Shepherd Richards, lived at Kahua Ranch where Monty’s father worked. The Richards moved to Oahu when Monty was an infant. His mother died a few years later.

Monty was a fifth-generation descendant of Amos Starr Cooke and Juliette Montague Cooke, lay missionaries of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, who arrived in Hawaii in 1837. The Cookes founded the Chiefs’ Children’s School for the education of the children of the “alii”. His grandparents were Theodore and Mary Atherton Richards, religious leaders and philanthropists in Hawaii.

Monty grew up in Honolulu and attended Punahou School. In 1942, during World War II, he and his siblings along with his stepmother, Leilani Roehrig Richards, moved to Minnesota for two years. There he attended St. Paul Academy in Minneapolis. He returned to Honolulu in 1944 and finished his ninth-grade year at Punahou before moving to Wallingford, Connecticut to attend the Choate School where he graduated in 1948.

In the footsteps of his Richards and Atherton relatives he attended Wesleyan University in Connecticut. But after two years there he decided he’d had enough of “Socrates, Plato, and all those folks” and found his way to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California where he studied animals and agriculture and graduated 1953.

In December 1953 Monty began working for Kahua Ranch in Honolulu where he learned the meat business from the ground up. He drove cattle, repaired fences, dynamited ranch ditches, rolled hides, worked in the slaughterhouse, delivered meat and worked on the account books. He moved to Kahua Ranch in Kohala in February 1955 and remained there for the rest of his life.

As a rancher, Monty was the first in Hawaii try artificial insemination (AI) of cattle and High Intensity Rapid Rotation grazing. He also began raising Wagyu cattle and sheep. His innovations at Kahua included one of the first wind farms in Hawaii, carnation greenhouses, hydroponic lettuce and tomatoes, and agricultural tourism (horseback rides, ATV tours, and a sunset dinner at the ranch).

Monty always felt that “you owe your fellow citizens the time to make their time on earth or community better.” So as busy as he was with Kahua Ranch, he always made time to serve his community and the state of Hawaii. He served on many boards including: Ponoholo Ranch, Parker Ranch, Hawaii Employers’ Mutual Insurance Company (HEMIC), Hawaii Leeward Planning Conference, The Nature Conservancy, the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARAT), Kohala Center, Hawaii Cattlemen’s Association, Friends of the Future, Hawaii Preparatory Academy, Bank of Hawaii and the Hawaii Conference United Church of Christ Foundation (co-chair of the Board of Trustees at the time of his death). He was the founding president of the Hawaii Island Economic Development Board and the Agricultural Leadership Foundation of Hawaii.

He was also on the Hawaii County Police Commission, the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii, the Honolulu Stadium Authority, Mauna Kea Soil and Water Conservation District, the Legacy Land Commission, the Commission on Water Resource Management (Water Commission) and the Governor’s Agricultural Coordinating Committee. He served sixteen years on the University of Hawaii Board of Regents under three different governors (Burns, Ariyoshi and Cayetano), and sixteen years as chairman of the Hawaii State Committee of the Farm Service Administration (USDA) appointed by both Presidents Bush and Obama. At the invitation of the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye he chaired the Rural Economic Transition Assistance program (RETA) which was established when the plantations in Hawaii began shutting down.

Monty was inducted into the Paniolo Hall of Fame in 2000. In 2006 the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources gave him the Ka Lei Hano Heritage Award. In 2008 the Bank of Hawaii established the Monty Richards Community Awards which are annual grants distributed by the Bank to worthy nonprofits on the Big Island. The Pacific Buddhist Academy, in 2011, gave him the “Light the Way” award. The Royal Order of Kamehameha Moku O Kohala made Monty an Honorary Member in 2013.

Monty attended church services whenever they were held at the Kahua Ranch Chapel. He was a member of Kalahikiola Congregational Church in Kohala. When he was in Honolulu he attended the church he grew up in, Central Union Church.

Monty’s survivors include his wife, Eleanore Atherton “Elly” Chong; his children Pam, Tim, Pat and John; his brothers, James Atherton Richards and Manning Richards; his sister, Mary Richards Yort Shattuck; nine grandchildren, two great-grandchildren; many nieces and nephews; the Kahua Ohana and countless numbers of friends.

Services for Monty will be held: Saturday, July 21, 2018 at Kahua Ranch. Visitation at 9 a.m. followed by the service at 10 a.m.; and on Saturday, July 28, 2018 at Central Union Church in Honolulu. Visitation at 11 a.m. followed by the service at Noon. Photo credit: Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative.