Richard Melton Webster, son of Mrs. Christine M. Webster, was born in Carthage on April 29, 1922. A 1940 graduate of Carthage High School, he served as president of his class all four years. Mr. Webster went on to college at The University of Missouri, earning his Juris Doctor. Dick married Janet Poston Whitehead in 1948 and began his law practice in Carthage the next year with close friend, and later Judge, Herbert Casteel.
Mr. Webster served his country during WWII with the U.S. Coast Guard in the South Pacific and retired from the U.S. Navy Reserve in 1968. He was active in veteran affairs, was a member of the American Legion, and frequently served as a speaker for various patriotic observances. Mr. Webster, a Carthage Republican, was first elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 1948, was re-elected in 1950, and in a special election in 1953. He represented the Jasper County Eastern District and was elected Speaker of the Missouri House in 1954, the youngest person ever elected to that position. He later served as a Missouri State Senator from 1962 until his death in 1990, being re-elected six times. Dick was known as one of the most powerful senators in Missouri history, and hundreds from throughout the state traveled to Jasper County to honor him at his funeral service.
To honor his sponsoring of the legislation to create Missouri Southern State College (now MSSU), the Richard M. Webster Communications and Social Science Building was dedicated and opened in August 1992 on the campus of MSSU. Additionally, the Richard M. Webster Medallion is awarded annually by MSSU to an elected official who has made significant contributions to the public good and demonstrated political leadership at the local, state or national level. Carthage’s prestigious Citizen of the Year award is also named in honor of Richard M. Webster.
Dick dedicated his life to public service, a legacy carried on by son William L. Webster who served as Missouri Attorney General and son Richard M. Webster, Jr. who served as Jasper County Auditor for 16 years. Senator Webster passed away on March 4, 1990 and is buried in Park Cemetery.