Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ellen Richardson: Cherished

Ellen Richardson - 1928 to 2012

"You had to have been there." The expression, which for some carries negative connotations, interrupted my thoughts this week, but they were positive reflections. It happened when anecdotes concerning Ellen Richardson and her husband, Jim, chased away grief, replacing gloomy emotions with pleasant memories. They were the kind of stories friends relate conversationally over coffee and dessert. How do I share a personal sense of Ellen with you who didn't know her? Half of you were not even born when she and I first met in 1966.

I can't. You have to be here, or somehow be connected to Panhandle Professional Writers. For years, Ellen was an active PPW member, always striving to upgrade programs and steer the group to professional goals. Ellen, along with a core of dedicated women, turned a local writers' club into a strong, regional organization.

But certain area writers today cherish her for the work she did that carried no board title, accorded her no public accolades, and certainly no financial gain.
When Ellen discovered a hint of writing talent in people, she encouraged it. She whittled away her prospect's self-doubts until they were replaced by confidence. Then she tuned mentor: she nurtured and challenged. Once when I expressed dissatisfaction with my progress, she said," There is nothing wrong with a goal of excellence, so long as you give your efforts the recognition they deserve, and don't kick barriers so hard, you break a bone." If that quotation from 1999 is inexact, it is close.

Later, my remarkable friend, who epitomized the drive for excellence, experienced career-smashing barriers--health issues that included a stroke. With a good half of her life forgotten, she continued to be an encouraging friend, and where it concerned those she loved, she exhibited her persevering spirit. When doctors suggested Jim, her husband of sixty-plus years should go to MD Anderson Cancer Center for medical treatment, Ellen, by then frail, was determined to accompany him. "Where he goes, I go," she said.

And now she has.

Ellen Richardson, but for a lifetime of health problems, might have been a political force in Amarillo or Austin. But Ellen still left a legacy beyond her loving influence on her family and close friends. We who enjoy the benefits of Panhandle Professional Writers have the opportunity to be living memorials to Ellen Lucille Richardson: we can encourage talent and dreams, and share our knowledge. And those who are able to truly emulate Ellen, can do it with friendliness, sophistication, professionalism, and a sense of humor.

(c) 2012, Bernice Simpson

No comments:

Post a Comment