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Obituary and Black History Contribution

of Howard Richardson, Sr.

Howard R. Richardson, Sr. was one of Memphis’ leading figures when it came to union and labor relations.  Howard worked for 44 years for the Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union.  Howard was never afforded the opportunity to finish high school, but because of his passion to help others he managed to have a successful career.  His career started in 1959 as a bellman and during that time he attended his first union meeting.  Outraged by the restrictions of the working class, Howard stood up and argued his point.  By the end of the meeting Howard was appointed secretary-treasurer and later became field representative.  He was one of the first black union organizers in the south during the 1960’s.  He would attempt to unionize workers at hotels where because of segregation he was not allowed in the back door, not to mention the front.    He moved up through the ranks and was appointed Administrative Assistant to the General President in 1975, and was elected International Vice President in January, 1983.

As Vice President he traveled throughout the United States and several Foreign Countries representing his union. These organizations included A. Phillip Randolph Institute, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Congressional Black Caucus, NAACP, Democratic Party, AFL-CIO Labor Council and many others.  He negotiated National Master Agreements with National and International companies.  He taught classes on collective bargaining techniques, disputes resolutions, grievance procedures and union administration.


Outside of his work with the union he was active with the Memphians and served as a member of the Trustee Board at his church, Mt. Olive Cathedral, C.M.E.

Howard was Born February 13, 1931, by mid-wife in Senatobia/Desoto County, Mississippi to Reverend Rich Richardson and Lillian Metcalf Richardson.  Reverend Richardson was also a tenant farmer.

The Richardson family moved to Shelby County, TN in 1935.  Howard 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. 

Howard’s dream was to be 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 PhD’s.  Not only did Howard give to his family he gave to anyone that needed help.

Howard professed a hope in Christ at age 12 and was baptized at Hickory Hill Baptist Church, Shelby County.  He joined Mt. Olive C.M.E. Church during the year 1959.  He taught Men’s Bible Class, on a rotating basis, during 1966 and 1967.  Pastor Theodore Lightfoot appointed him to the Steward Board in 1972.  He resigned from the Steward Board in 1975 when his official residence was moved to Maryland.  Howard returned to Memphis after numerous job assignments in other cities.

Howard Rich Richardson, Sr. 81, departed this life at his home on Sunday, February 19, 2012 after a short and valiant battle with lung cancer.  He retired, December 31, 2002 as Senior Vice President from Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union.  Howard was married to the love of his life, Mildred (Nickey) Burgess Richardson who preceded him in death in December, 1966 and he never remarried.   He is survived by three daughters Elois J. Frazier, Memphis, TN, Karen Swan, Detroit, MI, Maryam (Mary Elizabeth) Husain, Chicago, IL, son, Howard R. Richardson, Jr. (Loraine), Memphis, TN,  sister, Mamie Eldridge (Charles), Anaheim, CA, three brothers, Curtis Richardson (Juanita), Detroit, Michigan, F.C. Richardson (Bernice), Merrisville, IN,  Raymond Richardson (Lillie), Nashville, TN, brother-in-law Bobby Burgess (Elizabeth), Memphis, TN, two granddaughters, two grandsons, three great grandchildren and a host of nieces, nephews and godchildren.  Visitation, Thursday, February 23, 2012, 10:00 – 11:55 A.M. at Mt. Olive Cathedral, C.M.E. 538 Linden Avenue, Memphis, TN  38126, with funeral services to follow at noon.  Burial New Park Cemetery, Horn Lake Road, Memphis, TN  38109.  In lieu of flowers please make all donations to St. Jude  Children’s Research Hospital, P.O. Box 1000, Dept. 142, Memphis, TN  38148-0142.

Services entrusted to J. O. Patterson Mortuary, 2944 Walnut Grove Road, Memphis, TN, 38111, 901-324-4022, fax 901-324-0422.    









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