Richard A. Scearce

(November 3, 1949 – January 19, 2010)

This narrative will shine light on a life that will never be forgotten. Every single life creates purpose and meaning. This narrative is a mixture of a biological narrative, but also the process of uncovering missing pieces of the story of a man who died while in custody at the New Orleans jail. This is the story of a man named Richard Allan Scearce. Richard’s story begins on November 3, 1949, when he was born to his parents, William G. Scearce and Dorothy Mae. During 1949, the United States was recovering from World War II and becoming more involved in the Cold War.

Richard grew up in Jefferson County near Louisville, Kentucky. He attended Shawnee Junior High then he went on to attend and graduate from Shawnee High School in 1968. He grew up with three younger sisters, Janice, Beverly, and Linda. His father, William, worked as a switchman for the K&I Railroad and was an Army veteran of World War II. Richard’s mother, Dorothy Mae, worked as an operator for Bell South. Both of his parents worked at their companies until retirement. According to The Times Picayune, Richard was also in the military like his father. He was a former Marine; however, no military records were able to be released. The National Archives for Veterans was not able to release any information due to the lack of consent from the next of kin, which Richard’s family was not able to be reached. 

Richard graduated June 3, 1968. Although there are no military records, the height of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War was occurring during this time and an article published in The Times-Picayune referenced that Richard was a former Marine. The United States entered the Vietnam War in 1964 and withdrew troops in 1973.  During my research, I wondered if Richard was drafted during this time or signed up to fight for his country. I wondered if Richard was inspired by his father’s military service that he wanted to follow in his footsteps. Nevertheless, during Richard’s lifetime, he served our country as a United States Marine while protecting our country, his parents, and his three younger sisters at home.

A 2 story grey and brown brick house

Richard’s childhood home.

According to the academic records of Jefferson County Board of Education, Richard attended Shawnee High School from 1965 through 1968, which is now known as The Academy at Shawnee.  During his attendance at Shawnee, Richard grew up in the same home located at 215 36th Street Louisville, Kentucky, which is the gray and brown home pictured above. Richard grew up living in a four bed, two bath with an 1,832 square foot floor plan for his childhood home. The home was last sold for $66,000 in November 2008. The home is located about a mile from The Academy at Shawnee, a perfect location near school for him and his sisters while growing up. 

During Richard’s time at Shawnee High School, he excelled consistently in Band. He was also involved with Orchestra while in high school. Due to Richard’s dedication to music and arts, Richard received an A in the subject of Band every single year of   high school. Besides band, Richard did well in other subjects including General Mathematics, Health, Physical Education, English, Democracy, Psychology, and Business Arithmetic. Additionally, Richard’s IQ is listed on his records as 99, which is the average of the general population today, but many factors have changed since the 1960’s, according to Healthline.  

Richard A Scearce Highschool Transcript

Richard A Scearce Highschool Transcript

Furthermore, Richard scored his personal best on the Metropolitan Achievement Tests for High School in the subject of Social Studies during his sophomore year. Richard graduated with a ranking of 135 out of 367 in his senior class and finished with a G.P.A. of 2.9730.  His senior year G.P.A. was an increase from his junior year G.P.A. of 2.82. During his senior year, Richard finished with all B’s and an A in Band. Richard graduated June 3, 1968, with a Basic diploma, according to Shawnee High School Records.

The search into Richard’s life after high school continued. During Richard’s life, he also resided in Brookfield, Wisconsin, and Columbia, South Carolina, before finally residing in New Orleans. Richard’s mother, Dorothy Mae, died at the age of 79 in Louisville, Kentucky in March of 2002. Two years later, Richard’s father, William passed away at the age of 82 also in Louisville, Kentucky. A deeper search on his younger sisters revealed a bit more information. The order of the Scearce siblings is Richard, born November 3, 1949; Linda, born 1952; Janice, born July 11, 1953; and Beverly, born June 26, 1957. Beverly had two children Melissa and Brent Combs.

Richard passed away from cardiac arrest at the age of sixty-years-old while in custody of the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office when he was transferred for treatment at the Interim LSU Public Hospital, according to a The Times-Picayune article from 2010. He did not have any prior arrests except for the incident that occurred on October 29, 2009. On the day of his arrest, Richard was given notice of an eviction from his home located at 724 Upperline Street in New Orleans. He passed away January 19, 2010. 

Curiosity creeped up during my research looking through his old yearbooks, and I could not help but wonder about the person Richard was in high school and if he still had the same dreams and goals as he grew up. Did he still love music and enjoy playing instruments? Did he aspire to be in an orchestra when he grew up? Was he an overprotective brother for his younger sisters? Was he a caring uncle to his niece and nephew? 

Richard A Scearce Yearbook Photo

Richard’s Yearbook Photo

While there are still so many unanswered questions, I know that Richard’s life impacted more people than I will ever know and more than he may have ever known. So many factors play into each person’s life, but no matter how small your impact may seem, your own life can change or alter another person’s life with the smallest act. Richard’s legacy will not be remembered for the incidents leading up to the end of his life, but Richard will be remembered as a son, a brother, an uncle, a Marine, and an admirer of music.

Author: Cassidy Smith


  • Shawnee High School Records, Conversation, Email, and Search with Dr. James Cundy Supervisor, Archives and Retrieval Systems – Library Media Services Jefferson County Public Schools
  •, Yearbook Pictures Shawnee High School 
  •, Richard A. Scearce Kentucky, U.S.A. Birth Index 1949
  •, Reached out to other classmates in his yearbook, but no response 
  • LEXISNEXIS, Past address, criminal records, and birthdate
  • Research and Request on Military Records, 
  •, Obituary for Richard’s Parents
  • Shawnee Academic Report – Childhood address, parents, and full birthdate
  • Pictures of Richard’s Childhood home and past residences – 
  • Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, Criminal District Court Docket Master Search – For all  Richard’s Court Appearances and Court Minutes after his death
  • Information on Richard’s Childhood Home, N-36th-St-40212/home/84224417
  • Talking About IQ Scores, iq
  • The Courier-Journal Obituaries 2002 and 2004, Obituaries for William and Dorthory  Scearce 
  • 1949 Timeline | Historic Newspapers US –
  • Vietnam War Timeline, timeline
  • Historic Picture of Shawnee High School in 1975 – https://www.courier louisville-kentucky-courier-journal-archive/4311536001/
  • Directions from Richard’s Childhood Home to The Academy at Shawnee, Google Maps
  • Man dies of apparent suicide while in custody of Orleans Parish sheriff 8017eb8197fc.html
  • Standoff ends as gunman surrenders to police Uptown a22c275a6eaa.html