January 2016 Volume 13

Rudolph Rodrick Richardson (1927-2015)

Basil Richardson
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What does one say about his father once he is gone? Good question.  Daddy was a KC old boy. Excuse me if I ramble for a bit?

KC! Kingston College of the purple and white. He wanted me to attend the school and be exposed to this grounded tradition, this renowned institution, which had provided him with so much opportunity, exposure and friendships.

He did famously well for KC, had a very successful career at Jamaica Mutual Life Insurance Company. He was married and in 1969 left Jamaica for the US (Long Island, NY) with his wife and four children. His hopes and aspirations? One – which was to ensure that his four children had life better than he did growing up and had the opportunity for a better education and future.  The challenge and risk of the undertaking paled in light to what, we, his children would gain.

My father was not very affectionate, did not show his emotions to his children but he loved us very dearly.  There was a kind of immature, boyishness about my father. But he had a rough, tough side too.  A side that intimated a roughness to his upbringing. There was a sense that there was a loss of intimacy and closeness as he had only very casual and occasional contact with his parents and siblings. I don’t think he ever recouped from that. But with all of that he was very likable – everyone like Rudy. Friendly, funny, irascible, fun-loving, center of attention, partier, rude boy (kind of), competitive, kind, respectful, trustworthy – just a good man!

He sacrificed a lot for us – truly! The move he made from Jamaica to the US in 1969 is not for the faint of heart. He gave up so much; friendships, family, comfort and security, hopes, hopes for success, quality of life. Looking back, I do wish that he had relied on the support of his KC friends more during this time of transition, but I don’t think he was very good at asking for help.

I have a special place in my heart for KC. It was the place that “put him on the map” so to speak. It was where, I think, he found acceptance and a kind of nurture; a place of friendship and camaraderie he had nowhere else. I think he had companions with whom he could be “real” - whatever that meant to him.  He wanted me to have and share in that experience. So, I went to KC. It was only for 2 years.  Even though I went for such a short time I have a good picture of what life as a KCOB is because I saw it in him … and I saw it in his friends who had attended KC with him. I saw it in the way we, as KC students, carried ourselves, in how proudly we wore the school colors and in how we strived in academics and sports.

He was very proud of the school and the experiences he had. North Street campus, Mr. Forrest, canings, chapel, PE, classroom antics, the Boys Choir, Sabina park, races at the National Stadium, cricket and more. But, I also saw it in the lives of my classmates in school (KC). The making – more accurately, the molding of boys into men. An imperfect process (and sometimes painful), but nonetheless one which prepared many, of very bleak backgrounds, into those men who would become so much more apt and able to contribute to the welfare of their KC brothers, family and society.

He was born in Cuba in 1927 to Rodrick Richardson and Martha Ashman.  I think they immigrated to Jamaica sometime in the early 50’s (before Batista took power in Cuba). He grew up in Old Harbor, raised by an aunt on Old Harbor Rd, attended and graduated from Kingston College. After school he went on to work for the Assessor (I believe in Old Harbor) then Jamaica Mutual Life and then Standard Life Insurance Company. He was married to Marie Warlock, from Lafe Lane in Old Harbor, in 1954. They lived in Vineyard town, moved to Mona Heights and then Constant Springs. In 1969 we emigrated from Constant Springs, Jamaica to the Bronx and then Long Island, N.Y. with his wife and children, Basil (13), Michele (11), Anne (9) and Peter (7).

Around 1973, he went to work for Newsday, a major Long Island newspaper, as a District Manager. He was well liked and respected by coworkers and his superiors as he was conscientious, honest, a hard worker and good with the kids who delivered the papers.  He retired from Newsday and in 1993 moved to Ocala, Florida with his wife (then retired).  They loved it there and some very wonderful neighbors whom he became good friends with. He became very involved in his church and Relay for Life, as he was a cancer survivor.

About 2010, as they aged and it became less reasonable living far from family, they moved to Concord, NC to be closer to my sister. He made many friends there, again. He loved to go to this diner where the owner and the wait staff pampered him. When he walked in it was always, “Rudy’s here!!!”

Approximately, 2 years ago, with their mental health declining we were forced to place them in a nursing home in Charlotte. They were placed in a unit together. As I visited from time to time, it became apparent that he had taken on the role of “Mayor.” He befriended, cajoled, sweet-talked the aides and simply became the one that was known by all – very much liked and with a level of respect because the staff knew his family loved him; we visited all the time and were very active in both his and my mother’s care and health.

I last saw him alive on Sunday, 18 October2015. Less than 24 hours later I got the call at home in Massachusetts, October 19, 2015 at about 2:15 am that he passed away while in his sleep at University Place Nursing Home in Charlotte (kidney failure) at age 88.  My mother was present. He would have been married for 61 years on 22 December 2015.

He is survived his beloved wife and friend, Mary (88) and children Basil (59), Michele Embry (57), Anne Richardson (55) and Peter (53) and grandchildren, Nicole (32), Ashley (30), Eleisha (31) and Nathaniel Neptune (30) and great-grandchildren, William, Kingston, Peter Jr, Jacob and Julia and his brother, Hubert (Bronx, NY) and sister (Kathleen, Brooklyn, NY).  His ashes are buried at Concord and his wife Mary continues to reside at the nursing home in Charlotte.

Many thanks to the KC Times for this opportunity to make mention of him in this way. I would be grateful to have any memories anyone would like to share with me. He was not one to talk about his past very much, so I would love to have you share any memories him. I ask this now not only for myself but also for his grandchildren whom he loved very much – they would love to hear these memories/ stories and be would be so enriched by them.

With a grateful heart, Basil!

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