Friends remember Richard Blakeney, Charleston-area opera singer who died suddenly

Richard Blakeney, ca. 2011 (File/WCIV)

"Amazing, amazing voice. Tenor voice," recalled Mac McDougal.

He has fond memories of his long-time college friend and fraternity brother, Richard Blakeney. Both attended Winthrop University. Blakeney, a St. Andrews High School graduate, died suddenly on Sunday morning.

"It's very easy to keep in contact with him. Because he was just always doing things. And always inviting you to do things. And we would always see him downtown singing. He loved to sing on the street," said McDougal, an assistant principal at Stall High School.

Known for his booming voice and friendly demeanor, Blakeney wanted to bring his talents into schools and teach the gift of music.

"What he really wanted to do was get on the South Carolina Arts Commission's list to be able to go into public schools and to do things with the students in public school," McDougal said.

"Hey Avis! This is Richard. Trying to give you a call. See what you were up to. Alright. Later," Blakeney said on a voice mail message left for Avis Johnson. The family friend had planned to meet with Blakeney last Sunday. But he passed away.

"A phrase or a lyric of the song says when others see a shepherd guy, God sees a king. And so that epitomizes how he lived, how he sang. And how he embraced people," Johnson said. She’s a ninth grade English teacher at Stall High School.

It was an embrace that was felt and heard by many.

"I'm incredibly thankful for the time that God gave us with him," McDougal said.

Blakeney was a staple in downtown Charleston. His voice carried and people followed when he would sing.

A classically trained opera singer, Richard Blakeney may be gone but his music lives on social media.

Blakeney would have turned 41 years old on November 29th. His funeral service will be held Thursday at 10am in The Citadel's Summerall Chapel. Blakeney was a respected member of The Citadel Cadet Store team.

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