Cover photo for Mrs. Willie Richardson's Obituary
Mrs. Willie Richardson Profile Photo
1948 Mrs. 2023

Mrs. Willie Richardson

December 20, 1948 — January 25, 2023

Willie Bell Peay Richardson entered into eternal life on Wednesday, January 25, 2023 in Salem, Oregon.

Born on December 20, 1948 in Camden, South Carolina to Willie Peay and Minnie Bell Wright Peay Long, she gave her life to Christ at an early age and attended Macedonia Baptist Church in Camden (Westville), South Carolina. As an adult, she also attended St. Matthew Baptist Church in Lugoff, South Carolina. In Oregon, she attended several churches before finding a home at Trinity Covenant Church in Salem, Oregon.

Willie was educated in the Kershaw County Public School System and graduated from Jackson High School in 1967. Her community involvement began in her home state of South Carolina when in the 1970s she was a member of the South Carolina Family Planning Advisory Council.

In 1978, she moved to Salem, Oregon where she continued her community activism by serving on a variety of local committees including the Salem YWCA, Salem Human Rights Commission, Women’s Political Caucus and Oregon Assembly for Black Affairs. She was committed to the education of black and minority students and served on the Salem-Keizer School Board from 1987-1991, becoming the first and still only Black person to be elected to serve on the governing board. Even after her term on the school board ended, she continued working with school superintendents and staff to make sure minority voices were heard and worked to recruit and support black teachers and administrators into the school district. In addition, over the years, she served many black students as a mentor and consultant, encourager and advocate.

Willie served on the original board of Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers (name later changed to Oregon Black Pioneers) where she later became President serving over 20 years. Under her leadership the organization was revived and has become the leading historical organization for the research and preservation of black history in Oregon; with work that includes research, public programs, major exhibits and displays, original publications and partnering with local organizations of plan, interpret and advocate for the preservation and commemoration of sites of African American significance statewide. As a result of this work, she earned many awards and commendations.

Wllie worked for many years as an employee for the State of Oregon including working as staff support for the Oregon Parole Board. After leaving the state, she became a small business owner when she opened Willie’s Fashion Hats & More which was later renamed to A Time for Elegance. She closed this business in 2010.

She loved thrift store shopping, was a bargain hunter, changing the look of a bargain hunt into a brand new look and of course her hats. A great cook, ice cream maker, she was a true southern girl, “You can take the girl outta the country, but cannot take the country out of the girl”. Willie traveled extensively and made new friends wherever she went. She could hold a conversation with you and tell you how the hog ate the cabbage. She was one of a kind, true to herself. Her laughter was easily recognized because it was unique, warm and sincere, she got the joke. Willie will tell you, she was the mother of all, braided hair, sewed clothing for her siblings and children, she was right, she was the monarch of all the grandchildren.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her maternal grandparents who raised her, Clarence and Eva Wright; paternal grandmother, Frances Peay; a sister, Rosezina Peay Eddins; a niece, Harriet Thompson; and a nephew, Adrian Peay.

Those left to cherish her fond memory, grieve her passing, and celebrate her homegoing are her husband of nearly 56 years, Thomas E. Richardson of Salem, Oregon; two daughters, Chontell R. Richardson of Laurel, Maryland and Shirley Y. Richardson of Keizer, Oregon; one son, D. Jouron Richardson of Ruskin, Florida; three sisters, Eva M. Corbin (Mike) of Keizer, Oregon, Frances Peay Barnes (Ray) of Pittsburg, California, and Lynette M. Scott of Salem, Oregon; six grandchildren, DéVon A. Richardson of Salem, Oregon, Asasia S. Richardson of New York, New York, Damian J. Richardson of Ruskin, Florida, Maiah Gaines-Richardson of Los Angeles, California, Jaivionne Richardson of Las Vegas, Nevada, and Cory T. Richardson-Ross of Laurel, Maryland; mother-in-law, Hattie R. McKinney of Camden, South Carolina; two brothers-in-law, James Richardson (Tena) of Lugoff, South Carolina and Floyd Richardson of Gaston, South Carolina; two sisters-in-law Vaness R. Murphy (Jack) of Elgin, South Carolina and Joyce Dixon of Lugoff, South Carolina; and a host of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and other relatives and friends.

In lieu of flowers, the Oregon Black Pioneers and Pioneer Trust Bank’s Salem Foundation, established a scholarship in Willie’s honor to support college students interested in researching, interpreting and documenting Black history. Please make checks payable to Willie B. Richardson Scholarship Fund and mail to Oregon Black Pioneers 2755 Commercial St. SE, Salem, OR 97302.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Mrs. Willie Richardson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Graveside Service

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Starts at 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

St. Matthew Baptist Church Cemetery

749 Longtown Road, Lugoff, SC 29078

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