RICHARDSON, Mrs. Myldred Martha King. Our wonderful loving mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother, Mrs. Myldred King Richardson, passed away on April 11th, 2020, after a brief battle with Leukemia. Myldred was born on August 30th, 1930 in Washington, D.C., to Jasper “Jack” Earnest King (a cartographer, aerial photographer, and inventor), and Helen “Madelene” Stothers King, a Canadian school teacher. Myldred graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in Fairfax, Virginia and from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she majored in Biology, earned her Bachelor of Science degree, and graduated magna cum laude. Myldred was married for 63 years to her husband, Dr. James “Jim” Augustine Richardson II, M.D. (a physician with the U.S. Public Health Service and the U.S. Indian Health Service, who passed-away in June of 2017.
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Childhood: Myldred’s ancestors were of Scottish, Irish, German, Canadian, and Cherokee decent. Myldred’s parents met in Ontario, Canada, when her father was working there as a map-maker for the government. One of Jack’s brothers was a student in her mother’s one-room school-house. He had been misbehaving, so Madelene sent a note home to ask to speak to his father. Myldred’s father (Jack), came instead, to speak on his little brother’s behalf. He fell in love with Madelene, courted her, married her, and brought her home to the United States, where they had two children and where Madelene eventually gained U.S. citizenship. So on her mother’s side, Myldred was a first-generation American, while on her father’s side she was part Native American. Myldred spent most of her childhood in Alexandria and Fairfax, Virginia, but the family also followed her father’s career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Denver, Colorado, and San Francisco, California during WW II. They returned to the D.C. area so that Jack could continue his geodesic engineering career.
Adulthood: While attending university, Myldred was enrolled in several biological lab courses where she met and befriended the man whom she would eventually marry. They were lab partners in a genetics class and both reported that they had an immediate attraction to each other. She described Jim as the easiest fellow to talk with, so she married her best friend. After their marriage she found a job working as an administrative assistant in the Pentagon. She left that job when her husband was transferred to a station in Baltimore, Maryland, where she gave birth to Jacqueline “Jacqui”, the first of their four children. Jim’s career would take them to Staten Island, New York, (where daughter Madelene and son Jim were born), New Orleans, Louisiana, (where daughter Wendy was born), Chapel Hill, North Carolina, San Francisco, California, Phoenix, Arizona, and Cleburne, Texas. Myldred and Jim retired to Tucson, Arizona, to be closer to their four children and three grandchildren.
Interests and Hobbies: Throughout her adulthood Myldred donated her time and talents to the public school system, her churches, various charities, several needlework guilds and the public library. As an accomplished textile artist, Myldred designed and stitched canvases and won numerous awards for her needlepoint, cross-stitch, crewel, quilting and lace making. She could also harvest the fur from both domestic and agricultural animals and spin it herself into skeins of yarn for blankets, scarves and sweaters. Furthermore, Myldred was an accomplished gardener, who earned her certification as a Master Gardener from Texas A&M University. Myldred also loved to travel and visited Mexico, Canada, Japan, Scandinavia, Germany, France, England, Scotland, Ireland, Peru, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, China, and Tibet.
Preceded in Death: Myldred was preceded in death by her parents, (Madelene and Jack King), her sister (Betty Jacqueline King), her parents-in-law (Louise Harbaugh Richardson Hurd and James Augustine Richardson I), her twin sisters-in-law (Joan and Diana Richardson), her grandson (Peter Orton), and her husband (Dr. James A. Richardson II, M.D.).
Survived in Death: Myldred is survived by the following family members, each of whom has chosen to share a brief memory of her.
Jacqueline Johns, R.N. (Eldest daughter): “I remember when mom went to bat for me when my eighth grade teacher gave me a B when I deserved an A. The teacher realized her error and changed my grade to an A.” Myldred modeled “self-advocacy skills” to all four of her children.
Bradley “Brad” Johns, M.B.A (Jacqui’s husband): ”Myldred had a sense of humor, sometimes regarding topics that you would not expect. I recall a visit to Jim and Myldred’s house in Cleburne, TX in the late 1980’s. Our daughters were very young. They took us all out to a family dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. After completing our excellent meal, we were given fortune cookies. However, it soon became clear that there had been some mix-up in the manufacturing of the cookies, and an adult-themed cookie had been intermixed with the traditional cookies. Myldred received the adult themed cookie and it said something to the effect, ‘You are much loved, have you been to the clinic lately?’ She thought it was hysterical and saved it to this day.”
Madelene Orton, Ed.D. (Middle daughter): “When I was in the second grade, we three daughters were invited to another girl’s birthday party. Like us, her father was a medical researcher and physician at the hospital where my dad worked. That summer one of her dad’s lab rats had babies and each kid at the party was gifted one as a party-favor. None of the other kids were allowed to keep the baby rats, but my mom thought they were cute, so she allowed all three of us to keep one each. Every year on their birthday (July 18th) we would get up early to make home-made cheese cake and then we would throw a birthday party for the rats, complete with party hats, candles and party games, inviting all of our favorite friends. Years later, when my rat Molly died, my mom helped the kids in the neighborhood organize an elaborate and ecumenical funeral procession and burial, with black dresses and veils, prayers, hymns, incense and the rather theatrical wailing of the bereaved. My mom was different.”
Mark Orton, (Madelene’s husband): “When we first retired, on my monthly treks going back and forth between Tucson and Corpus Christi, every Saturday night Mom would call and invite me out for Sunday afternoon lunch. We would go “restaurant hopping”, trying-out different places and menus. We talked about what we did that month, told stories and just enjoyed each other’s company. It was a very sweet time in our lives.”
Dr. Jim Richardson III, Ph.D. , (Myldred’s son): “Mom enjoyed being in the Delta Gamma sorority and was very proud of being the president of her Pan-Hellenic Council at George Washington. She won first place for many of her needlepoint pieces. She was a voracious reader, who read a book a day, and especially loved mystery books. She was also listed in the 1952 U.S. Universities Who’s Who.”
Wendy Tavarez, (Youngest daughter): “Mom would often do volunteer work at our schools in the library. She also was a classroom helper for our teachers and would bring homemade treats to school for classroom parties. She taught us to cook and sew! She even volunteered to help in my 8th grade home economics class during the sewing portion of the class! She was very proactive with our education and helped me get more one on one help when I was struggling to learn to read! Mom would always be there to lend a helping hand when I needed her and lend an ear when I had a problem to discuss! I loved that about her!”
Rafael Tavarez, (Wendy’s husband): “ I liked how much mom loved to watch birds and enjoyed how she had all the birds that would come to the bird feeder in her backyard. She would explain the different birds to me and made me really appreciate all the different types that would come to their yard. When she came to visit us, we took her to a bird sanctuary and I really enjoyed it because of mom's knowledge of and enthusiasm for birds.”
Michelle Johns, Ph.D. (Myldred’s oldest grand-daughter): “I will always remember when Grandmommy took me along to a medical conference she and Granddaddy attended in Colorado when I was about 8. She went out of her way to make that trip special for me, and took me on many adventures, including to a multi-story bookstore where I was told to go nuts (I walked away with at least
10 new books!), a miniature village made up of buildings the size of large doll houses, and her friend's house with running streams in both the front and the back yard for me to splash in. She knew how to make a business trip grandkid friendly, and those are memories I'll always treasure.”
Renee Johns, M.A. (Myldred’s youngest grand-daughter): “When I was about 9 or 10, I was obsessed with how good Grandmommy was at needlepoint. She bought me a cute duck needlepoint kit and tried to teach me. I wasn't very good, but she tried her best. I don't remember if I ever finished it, but it was nice to share this experience with her.”
Memorial and Gifts: A memorial service will be scheduled at Myldred’s place of worship, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, in Tucson, once we are all free to socialize again. If you feel so moved, you may send a small memorial donation there, to your own place of worship, to any public school, to any charity that favors the conservation of wild plants and/or wild animals, to any pet shelter/rescue group, or to “The West” a non-profit needlework store dedicated to charities for women and children. Myldred volunteered and taught there for many years.