Thursday, September 23, 2010

Carroll Richardson

A friend emailed: "Carroll Richardson has passed away." Today we attended this 75 year old gentleman's crowded memorial service.

We knew him from his days working for community empowerment through Californians for Justice. He was a faithful, sturdy participant in CFJ's campaigns right from the organization's beginning during the losing 1996 electoral campaign to preserve affirmative action in the state. As the organization turned to fighting for racial equity in the schools, he was an old-timer who stuck with a program that became focussed on developing youth leaders. When he said he'd attend activities he showed up, every time, and he always seemed to lend graceful cheer to whatever he undertook.

As so often happens at memorial services, today I learned that Carroll's life was an even richer gift to his many communities than I had known. During and after a career as a county probation officer, he threw himself into civic activities, serving on numerous community boards and even an Alameda County Civil Grand Jury.

It became apparent that one of his anchors was the Phillips Temple C.M.E. Church where Adult Sunday School (Bible study, I think) was his passion and calling. The woman who runs that program today offered a description of Carroll's contribution that rang completely true to my experience of this gentle man: he had the "gift of encouragement." That's a special and under-recognized contribution some people bring to the lives of those they meet. (Note the photo with Bill Clinton above and think on who is encouraging who.)

In today's homecoming celebration, Carroll's church community enjoyed envisioning him settling in for endless days of Adult Sunday School beyond the pearly gates. I like that.

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