Celebration of life held Saturday in memory of Panthers founder Jerry Richardson

Richardson passed away on March 1 at the age of 86.
FILE - In this Jan. 15, 2013, file photo, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson speaks...
FILE - In this Jan. 15, 2013, file photo, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson speaks during a news conference for the NFL football team in Charlotte, N.C. People familiar with the situation say hedge fund manager David Tepper has agreed to buy the Panthers from Richardson for a record $2.2 billion. The people spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday, May 15, 2018, on condition of anonymity because the team has not yet announced the sale. The purchase is subject to a vote at the NFL owners meeting next week in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)(Chuck Burton | AP)
Published: Mar. 18, 2023 at 10:47 AM EDT
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WBTV) - The community was invited to remember the man who brought Panthers football to the Carolinas on Saturday morning at Wofford College.

A celebration of life began at 11 a.m. in memory of Charlotte businessman and Panthers founder Jerry Richardson. The public ceremony was held inside Wofford’s indoor stadium, which bears Richardson’s name.

He will be remembered for bringing professional football to the Carolinas, but those who spoke Saturday morning remember Richardson more for who he was away from the game of football.

“People’s lives have been changed because of him,” former Panthers tight end Greg Olsen said. “And will continue to change because of his philanthropy, because of his generosity, because of his kind heart.”

Other former players including Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly, along with current head coach Frank Reich, were also on hand to pay their respects to a man that changed the landscape of sports in the Queen City.

“It was just a really fitting ceremony and really fitting memorial to memorialize a really special man to a lot of people,” Olsen said.

Richardson passed away on March 1 at the age of 86, nearly five years after selling the Panthers franchise.

Many who spoke at his memorial service told stories of his generosity, and willingness to help those around him.

“That legacy that he had with regards to making a difference in people’s lives, has continued to flourish and to move on,” former Panthers linebacker Carlton Bailey said.

The native of Spring Hope, N.C. was a graduate of Wofford before a brief professional football career.

He was also known as a successful businessman, becoming the first franchisee of the fast-food chain Hardee’s, a major investor in Bojangles, and ran Denny’s while serving as the CEO of Flagstar.

Richardson brought the Panthers to Charlotte in 1993, two years before its inaugural 1995 season.

For those who were unable to attend the ceremony in person, the service was livestreamed.

Related: Carolina Panthers founder, former owner Jerry Richardson dies at 86