Lewis Herbert Richardson Jr., an educator in the Baltimore school system for more than three decades, died Jan. 25 of Parkinson's disease at Augsburg Lutheran Home in Lochearn. The longtime Northwest Baltimore resident was 80.
Dr. Richardson was born in Baltimore in 1928, the eldest of four children, and graduated in 1946 from Douglass High School.
He earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics and biology in 1950 from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. He later earned a master's degree in administration and supervision from Loyola College, and in 1982 earned a doctorate in education from the University of Maryland.
"He was always a good math student," said his wife, the former Catherine Woodland. "When he was in third grade and took the standardized math test, he finished early. And the teacher thought he wasn't finished and she checked it and it was like 100 percent."
Dr. Richardson was drafted into the Army in 1952 during the Korean War and was stationed at Aberdeen Proving Ground, where he served as a teacher. In 1954, he left the Army with an honorable discharge.
That same year, he was hired as a math teacher at Booker T. Washington Junior High School, where he met his future wife, who was an English teacher.
The two married in Baltimore in September 1955. They lived in the Ashburton area and had two sons. Dr. Richardson moved on to Lombard Junior High School, where he served as the mathematics department head.
He later served as assistant principal, and then principal, at Edmondson High School.
"The years he spent at Edmondson High School were the happiest and the most rewarding years of his entire tenure, because of the relationships he established with the students," Mrs. Richardson said. "I've talked to so many of them that have called. They said he demanded respect. He was a disciplinarian. They could talk to him. But he was firm. He almost had a third ear for listening. Some of the students said he was almost like a father to them."
Elizabeth H. Adams, a cousin, who was principal at Douglass High School at the time of her retirement, said Dr. Richardson received the "spirit of benevolence from his working-class parents, who had the desire that their four children would do better and sent them all to college."
"He was a very strict disciplinarian, but he was determined that things would go well. He was a person who was concerned about others," she said.
Constance Bennett-Miller got to know Dr. Richardson when she was a student at Edmondson High School.
"I can't say enough about him. He was a phenomenal person and was truly about being an educator," Mrs. Bennett-Miller said. "When he scolded you, it was given with care, concern and compassion. He made you want to go to school and better yourself."
Mrs. Bennett-Miller, who graduated in 1973, said that Mr. Richardson remained engaged with his students despite the passing of the years.
"We were proud to have him attend our proms and later class reunions. He was always a part of our gatherings," she said. "For us, he became extended family. He was a man of distinction and honor. A father figure to us."
Though he was hesitant to take a job working in school administration when it was offered to him, an older teacher told him the job would enable him to influence the lives of more students.
He began working as an area director in 1973, and from there went on to serve as a regional superintendent, a deputy superintendent for both fiscal and business management and school administration. When he retired in 1988, he was the assistant superintendent for planning, research and evaluation.
When he retired, the department of education cited in a resolution his "compassion, humanism, sensibility and professionalism in the pursuit of the best programs for the children of Baltimore."
Dr. Richardson was also an involved father, serving as president of Forest Park Little League during the 1960s and as a coach long after his sons had outgrown the sport.
For nearly 20 years, he served on the board of directors of the Family Health Centers of Baltimore and had been chairman for eight years.
After Dr. Richardson's retirement, he taught in the masters and doctoral programs at Morgan State University.
Dr. Richardson was a longtime member of Douglas Memorial Community Church, where he had been treasurer and president of the board of governors of the church's Camp Farthest Out.
He was also a member of the Tuscan Lodge 90 of the Prince Hall Masons and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at his church, 1325 Madison Ave.
Also surviving are two sons, Lewis Hamilton Richardson of Baltimore and Guy Bernard Richardson of Dayton, Ohio; two brothers, Donald M. Richardson and John W. Richardson, both of Baltimore; a sister, Mildred R. Worthy of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.; and four grandchildren.