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LEGACY: Howard R. Richardson Sr.

Howard R. Richardson Sr. – who worked for 44 years for the Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union – was one of Memphis’ leading figures when it came to union and labor relations. 

Howard R. Richardson Sr. – who worked for 44 years for the Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union – was one of Memphis’ leading figures when it came to union and labor relations.

 
 Howard R. Richardson Sr.

Mr. Richardson died Sunday (Feb. 19) at his home after a short and valiant battle with lung cancer. He was 81.

Mr. Richardson retired as Senior Vice President of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union on Dec. 31, 2003.

In 1959, Mr. Richardson became a bellman and soon thereafter attended his first union meeting. Outraged by restrictions on the working class, he stood up and argued his point. By the end of the meeting he had been appointed secretary-treasurer and later became field representative.

Mr. Richardson was one of the first African American union organizers in the south during the 1960’s. He attempted to unionize workers at hotels where – because of segregation – he was not even allowed to enter through the back door. He was appointed Administrative Assistant to the General President in 1975.

As International Vice President, the office he won election to in January 1983, Mr. Richardson traveled throughout the United States and several countries representing his union. He negotiated agreements with national and international companies, and taught classes on collective bargaining techniques, disputes resolutions, grievance procedures and union administration.

Mr. Richardson was born Feb. 13, 1931 in Senatobia/Desoto County, Miss., to the Rev. Rich Richardson, a tenant farmer, and Lillian Metcalf Richardson. The Richardson family moved to Shelby County in 1935.  He attended Shelby County grade schools and dropped out of Geeter High School after completing the tenth grade to help support his family. He decided to serve his country and enlisted in the United States Marine Corp.

Mr. Richardson dreamed of becoming a lawyer, but he didn’t have the time or the education. Through his endless giving spirit and love for his family he helped his brothers, F.C. and Raymond, obtain their doctorate degrees.

Mr. Richardson was baptized at Hickory Hill Baptist Church (Shelby County and joined Mt. Olive C.M.E. Church in 1959, where he remained active through the years, teaching Men’s Bible Class and serving on the Stewart Board and as a member of the Trustee Board.

Throughout his life, Mr. Richardson was active with numerous organizations, including the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Congressional Black Caucus, NAACP, Democratic Party, AFL-CIO Labor Council.  

Mr. Richardson was married to Mildred (Nickey) Burgess Richardson, who preceded him in death in December 1966. His sisters, Bernice Hodges and Lenora Tinner, and his brother, Herbert Richardson, also preceded him in death. He leaves three daughters, Elois J. Frazier of Memphis, Karen Swan of Saginaw, Mich., and Maryam (Mary Elizabeth) Husain of Chicago; a son, Howard R. Richardson Jr. (Loraine) of Memphis; a sister, Mamie Eldridge (Charles) of Anaheim, Calif.; three brothers, Curtis Richardson (Juanita) of Detroit, F.C. Richardson (Bernice) of Merrisville, Ind., and Raymond Richardson (Lillie) of Nashville; a brother-in-law, Bobby Burgess (Elizabeth) of Memphis; and two granddaughters, two grandsons, three great grandchildren and a host of nieces, nephews, godchildren and a special son, Michael A. Darling II.

Visitation: Thursday, Feb. 23, 10 a.m.-11:55 a.m. at Mt. Olive Cathedral C.M.E. at 538 Linden Ave. and funeral services at noon, with burial in New Park Cemetery on Horn Lake Road.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, P.O. Box 1000, Dept. 142, Memphis, Tenn., 38148-0142.

J.O. Patterson Mortuary has charge.

 

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