A family paints the H Rock of Highland High School in honor of their late brother

According to family friends, the siblings of John Richards III painted the high school spirit symbol in memory of their brother who died a year ago.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) The H Rock, pictured Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, in Salt Lake City, has been edited to show a large Roman numeral “III.” The symbol is often used by the far-right paramilitary Three Percent movement.

The siblings of the Salt Lake City attorney who died a year ago painted Highland High School H Rock with the Roman numeral “III” to honor their late brother, John Richards III, according to friends who contacted the Salt Lake Tribune.

The H Rock – a large boulder that overlooks the Salt Lake Valley and is often decorated with an “H” in the spirit of the school – was painted white “III” over the weekend.

A friend of Richards’ passed on a message from his father who noted that Richards’ siblings had painted the rock to mark the first anniversary of his passing. Richards was student body president at Highland High School and graduated in 1988.

Richards, according to an obituary, died suddenly on August 11, 2021 and was a graduate of Highland High School.

“John could find joy even in life’s most difficult times, and he could make an ordinary moment a once-in-a-lifetime adventure,” Richards’ obituary reads.

He was the founder of Richards Law, a real estate company based in Salt Lake City.

“His infectious personality, relentless enthusiasm and welcoming presence will be sorely missed,” the firm wrote of its founding attorney.

H Rock and the area around it are owned and managed by the Salt Lake City Department of Public Lands. They did not respond to a request for comment on the painted rock.

The H Rock has sometimes been painted to show signs other than the “H” of Highland High School. During the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, the rock said “I can’t breathe”, a reference to George Floyd. The rock has also been transformed in recent years into a symbol of peace and a pro-marijuana message.

Patch • The Salt Lake Tribune reported in an earlier version of this story that it appeared H Rock had been painted with the logo of the anti-government militia the Three Percenters. This story was changed after hearing from friends of Richards.

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