For 21 years, C. Glenn Richardson was the top designer for Haeger Potteries, whose kilns turned out bricks that helped Chicago recover from its Great Fire, as well as the preening gazelles and prowling black panthers displayed as kiln-fired upward mobility in countless American homes.
Mr. Richardson once told his daughter Suzy Newman, “There’s a Haeger lamp or piece of pottery in every hotel lobby, and homes and offices across the country.”
Though the 145-year-old East Dundee company closed in 2016, Newman, who’s been antiquing most of her life, frequently finds her dad’s Haeger designs on her hunts.
He even made it into the Guinness Book of Records. Mr. Richardson helped design and hand-painted a Haeger vase that weighed an estimated 650 pounds and was about eight feet tall. When it was created in 1976, it was the largest hand-thrown vase in the world. It was sold last year at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers for $5,000, plus fees that brought the total to $6,250.
At his funeral, instead of programs or prayer cards, his family handed out prints of Mr. Richardson’s paintings, sketches and watercolors. The longtime Morton Grove resident died Sept. 17 at a Galena nursing home, his daughter said. He was 87.
He was an athlete as well as an artist. He was nicknamed “Butch” Richardson when he attended Lane Technical High School, where he played football and designed an emblem that was stamped into books at the school library. He also played at Wright Junior College, which got him recruited by the University of Alabama. But a knee injury ended his football days, his daughter said.
A fitness enthusiast and body-builder, he exercised with Clyde Emrich, an Olympic weightlifter who was the longtime strength-training coach for the Chicago Bears. He earned extra money by working as a nude model at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. And Mr. Richardson had no trouble with Marine Corps basic training when he served stateside during the Korean War, his daughter said.
He grew up in Ravenswood, the middle child in a family of seven artsy kids. At 3, he visited the Century of Progress World’s Fair, and its Art Deco and art moderne aura was something he never forgot. Young Butch went to Waters grade school and loved going to the Riverview amusement park at Belmont and Western.
In those days in Chicago, every few blocks had a butcher shop, and he would ask the butchers for some brown butcher’s paper to do his drawings.
“He used to say he would draw on anything that didn’t move,” Newman said.
Mr. Richardson liked to draw elephants, ships, gardens and sci-fi designs. He carved his own wooden sculpting tools and sometimes used sharp dental implements for precision work.
When he came home to Chicago after serving with the Marines, he designed for Continental Studios and Plasto lamps. During a mid-1950s Davy Crockett craze fueled by the Disney TV show, he crafted a small statue of Crockett for Plasto.
One of his mentors, the lamp designer and sculptor Les Fordyce, suggested he change his given first name — Clarence. He decided to go by Glenn, for the movie actor Glenn Ford.
In 1971, he went to work at Haeger, becoming the chief designer for Haeger Potteries and Royal Haeger Lamp, according to his biography. He worked there for about 21 years. After Haeger, he designed lamps and sculptures for the Harris Marcus Group.
Mr. Richardson loved musical theater. During his last moments, his family was playing the soundtrack from “The King and I.”
“Even the nurses cried,” his daughter said. “He was warm. He had charisma. He always had this impish smile, even when he died. He was just cute.”
Mr. Richardson is also survived by Joan, his wife of 63 years; another daughter, Carol Richardson-O’Brien; his son Keith; sisters Gloria Mockler and Sandra Bauer; and four grandchildren.