Catherine Yvonne Woodland “Dedee” Richardson, a retired Baltimore City Schools guidance counselor, died March 17 at Gilchrist Center Howard County of complications from an accidental fall. She was 91 and lived in Columbia with her family.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Presstman Street, she was the daughter of Alice Hill Woodland, a homemaker, and Bernard Tecumseh Woodland, a home carpenter.
She was a twin to her sister, Elizabeth, and both were named for their great-great-grandmothers. Her sister survived one month.
“At the age of 2, Catherine insisted that she be called Dedee and for the rest of her life, family and friends called her by this chosen name,” said her son, Guy B. Richardson.
She was the youngest of the Woodlands, a family that consisted of parents, their four sons and three daughters who lived in a three-story rowhouse in West Baltimore with white marble steps.
“She shared stories of a happy childhood and after her parents died at a comparatively young age, she was raised by her oldest sisters,” her son said. “Her oldest sister was class valedictorian at [Frederick] Douglass [High School] as was her brother. Education and church were very important to that family.”
In an autobiographical sketch, she wrote, “Down these steps, the children went to attend services at St. Peter Claver Roman Catholic Church and their early Christian church education.”
She also wrote that three of her brothers went on to serve in the military during World War II. Her oldest brother, Bernard, a paratrooper, died in 1944 in Holland and is buried in a veterans cemetery in Belgium.
She said there was deep family sadness when her mother also died in 1944 and her father the following year.
She graduated from Douglass in 1948. Next to her photo she wrote, “To be a success.” She said her pet peeve was “Discrimination.” And her immediate plans after graduation were “To attend college.”
She received the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority award at graduation.
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She earned a degree at the then-Morgan State College in 1952. She pledged Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Alpha Gamma chapter in 1950.
“My mother was a lady of distinction and sophistication,” her son said. “Her fellow students named her a member of the Miss Morgan 1951-1952 royal court.”
She began teaching English at what is now Booker T. Washington Middle School in West Baltimore.
In 1954 she met her future husband, Lewis H. Richardson Jr. He was a mathematics teacher at the school and sought her attention by helping her clean her schoolroom blackboards. He went on to be the Edmondson High School principal and an assistant superintendent of Baltimore City Schools.
They married in 1955.
“She was elegant, stately and serene, a pretty lady. All the boys fell in love with her and we were only 12 years old,” said Milton A. Dugger, a former student who later sat on the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners. “The next year we were taught by her future husband.”
After their wedding, they lived on Belmont Avenue and later in Ashburton on Whitechapel Road.
Her son described Mrs. Richardson as a “nurturing mother who was intentional in providing, shaping and supporting the development of her sons.”
She and her husband led family vacations to Cape May, New Jersey. She also shepherded her children to church, joined the YMCA, and brought them to recreational and sports activities.
“She wanted to make sure we kept up and stayed ahead,” her son said.
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“She was an authentic, loving and giving person who looked out for the welfare of others with grace and respect,” he said. “Her calming demeanor, peaceful temperament and soothing voice served her for her 32-year career in the Baltimore City School System.”
Mrs. Richardson went from teacher to guidance counselor. She helped students in Laurence G. Paquin Middle/High School for pregnant girls and the Harlem Park Junior High School. Her last academic assignment was as a Douglass guidance counselor in 1985.
She was an avid reader and letter writer.
“There were few friends or family who never received at least one of her eloquent handwritten letters with the penmanship one would expect from an English teacher,” her son said.
She also enjoyed travel and spent a spring break in Puerto Rico. She took Bible classes and was a volunteer for Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland.
Services will be held at noon Saturday at Douglas Memorial Community Church, 1325 Madison Avenue.
Survivors include her two sons, L. Hamilton Richardson of Baltimore and Guy B. Richardson of Columbia; four grandchildren; and three great-grandsons. Her husband died in 2009.