Celebration of Mary Richardson’s Legacy

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 28, 2024

On Saturday, the Mary H. Richardson Community Center was filled with gratitude and fond memories as family, friends, and community members gathered to honor Mary Richardson’s enduring legacy. The event, organized by her niece, Sheila McGee, brought together generations of the Richardson family and community members to celebrate a woman known as the “Mother of the Community.”

Sheila McGee, who now resides in Chicago, reminisced about the family’s annual reunions during her youth, a tradition that dwindled over the years. “As family members got older, the gatherings became less frequent until they stopped altogether,” McGee said. “I wanted to revive this tradition while everyone is still around and set an example for the younger generation.”

The celebration highlighted Richardson’s lifelong commitment to her community, which began young and blossomed into extensive community service. Known for founding the local Voters League, Richardson was a reliable figure people could always call on in times of need. “If she had it, you had it,” was a common saying in the community, reflecting her generosity and willingness to help others.

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“She was always loving and caring, and we wanted to honor that,” McGee said. The Mary H. Richardson Community Center opened in 2022, is a testament to Richardson’s values and the causes she championed. The center hosts tutoring sessions, educational workshops, and health fairs in collaboration with various agencies and provides a venue for community events. It also serves as a voter precinct and center for voter registration, continuing Richardson’s legacy of civic engagement.

At 94, Richardson’s compassion is rooted in her career as a nurse at Crosby Memorial Hospital, where she demonstrated exceptional care and dedication to her patients. Despite suffering a stroke in 2021 that left her wheelchair-bound, Richardson continues to be an active presence at the center, inspiring and supporting the community she loves.

“She shows up to the center as much as she can to continue helping kids and the community flourish,” Georgia Bender, Richardsons sister-in-law, said, highlighting Richardson’s unwavering commitment even in the face of personal challenges.

The appreciation event at the Mary H. Richardson Community Center not only celebrated Richardson’s past contributions but also underscored the ongoing impact of her work, inspiring future generations to continue her legacy of service and community care.

The celebration brought together three generations from the “Bender Klan,” the name they gave their family tree. That stems from David Lee Bender and Minnie Lee Moore Bender.