Richard Lee Sales

Mar 12, 1966  Apr 8, 2018

Chief Richard Lee Sales died near Statesville, NC on Sunday, April 8, 2018 in a car accident at the age of 52. Chief Sales is survived by his children, Nathan and Laurel, his former wife, Shelly Sales (Lee), his parents, Junius "Bud" Sales Jr., and Aretha Wilson Sales, his sister Keila Briggs and her husband Blaine Briggs, and nieces Annlei Briggs Burke and Ivy Briggs. He is preceded in death by his grandfather Junius "Pap" Sales Sr., and grandmother Annie Hughes Sales.

Richard was born on March 12, 1966 in Asheville and was a lifelong resident of the Reynolds Community. He was a 1984 graduate of A.C. Reynolds High School. He was a school bus driver since 1993 and served as a resource for both the middle school and high school. He was a loyal band parent, who served as the president of the band parent association for two years while his children attended Reynolds. He graduated from NC State University in 1986 with a degree in flower and nursery crop technology. He was active in the North Carolina Farm Bureau and served on the Buncombe County Farm Bureau board.

Chief Sales served the Reynolds Fire Department for thirty-one years. He was a Level II Fire Fighter and an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). He was deeply loved and respected by his colleagues. He is only the second Chief to serve there, succeeding his dad, Bud, in 2008. He was a trusted source of calm in crisis situations. Richard was a remarkable man with a heart for service and a deep sense of community. He loved to help people, and was willing to drop whatever he was doing to help his neighbors, friends, and family. He will always be remembered for his wisdom, integrity, courage, and good humor. He knew how to put people at ease in tense situations.

Richard loved his family and community. He was a remarkably attentive and engaged father. He loved to spend time with his kids. He supported them by attending Laurel's gymnastic meets and visiting Nathan's photography galleries. He was also an integral part of the fine arts program at A.C. Reynolds High School. He honored and celebrated who Nathan and Laurel are as people, but also challenged them to do their best in their work, service, and relationships. He shared his love and passion for music and creativity with them both.

Richard’s love of music included everything from traditional southern gospel to chamber music. In all the churches he attended he was invested in congregational music. He was an organist and keyboardist and sang in choirs. Richard loved to cook and bake, and he loved the fellowship and community that cooking and baking helped to nurture. Friends called him “an old soul,” and he gravitated to the older folks in the community, and sought to treasure them and their stories. He valued the simple aspects of human life: family, homesteading, community, and church.

He was a devoted, active, and cherished member of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Asheville. He sang in the Chancel Choir and was an ordained Deacon. As a Deacon he visited members who were homebound, helped serve Communion, and worked to build strong relationships in the church. Richard’s faith led him to explore hard questions and address difficult social issues. His church family will never forget his strong faith, quick wit, delicious biscuits, and his inspiring witness to God’s power in his life.

Chief Sales was one of the original members of Safe Kids WNC, which was founded in 1994. He was one of the first Child Passenger Safety (CPS) instructors in Western North Carolina, and one of the first CPS technicians in the state of North Carolina. He assisted with numerous classes focusing on child passenger safety for children with special healthcare needs, safe bus transport, and transport in emergency vehicles. He held and taught numerous CPS classes at his department, and participated in countless community car seat check events. He received an Award of Excellence because of his safety work.

He also participated in safety activities with Oakley Elementary, including fire prevention, water safety, and bicycle safety. He was a VIP for a VIP program at Reynolds High School. He was always willing to help set up safety exhibits at the Mountain State Fair, and assist with equipment maintenance. Chief Sales was a past President of the Western North Carolina Fire Fighters Association. He was also a member of the North Carolina Association of Fire Chiefs and the North Carolina Fire Fighters Association.

At the time of the accident Chief Sales was on his way to a safety conference in Wilmington, NC and was scheduled to accept an award for the Reynolds Fire Department.

A visitation for friends and family will be held on Thursday, April 12th from 5pm-9pm at Biltmore Baptist Church.

A funeral service will be held on Friday, April 13 at 10:00am at Biltmore Baptist Church. The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Senior Pastor at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, will officiate and the Grace Covenant Chancel Choir and the Cathedral of All Souls choir will sing.

The Richard Sales Memorial Scholarship has been created at the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. Contributions may be made to “CFWNC” – please note “Sales Fund” in the memo line. Mail to CFWNC, 4 Vanderbilt Park Drive, Ste. 300, Asheville, NC 28803 or give online at using the "Give Now" link at the top of the home page.