Florence (Leonard) Richardson

October 5, 1929 ~ March 23, 2024

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Florence May (Leonard) Richardson, age 94, passed away peacefully at home on Saturday, March 23, 2024. Born in Dawson, PA, in 1929, she was the daughter of James E. Leonard and Elizabeth (Bordas) Leonard. She was preceded in death by her parents, her brother John Leonard, and her beloved husband of 62 years, Gerald A. Richardson, Jr.

Florence was a 1947 graduate of Connellsville High School, Connellsville, PA, and attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In many ways, she was a traditional woman of her generation, but she also had an independent and adventurous spirit ahead of her time. In 1949, age 20, she bravely left her small hometown and traveled alone to Washington, D.C. to accept a position with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and later as an aide to MS Congressman Frank Smith, and the U.S. Congressional Budget Office.

While in Washington, she met her husband, Gerald, from Ackerman, MS. After marrying in 1952, they embarked on a 20-year military career. During that time, they traveled the world with postings in Okinawa, Germany, and seven states in the U.S. Often, Florence had to travel alone with her four children in tow, reuniting with her husband at their new postings. One of these journeys was a 21-day Pacific Ocean voyage where Florence traveled with her children, 13 other military wives, and 3,000 Marines aboard the U.S.S. Mann.

After her husband’s retirement in 1971, the family settled in Starkville, MS. For seven years, Florence was a supervisor in the Mississippi State University Registrar’s Office. Never one to be idle (her childhood nickname was “Busy”), Florence was a long-time, active member of Saint Joseph Catholic Church and was involved in Democratic political activities. She tirelessly worked to feed the hungry and regularly provided comfort by visiting the sick and elderly. An animal lover, she never turned her back on a stray cat or failed to remember her granddogs on holidays.

Florence will be remembered as a sweet, caring, loving, and generous mother, wife, sister, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt, cousin, friend, and neighbor. She is survived by her four children: Rebecca of Denver CO; Amy of Crawford MS; Gerald of Crawford MS; and Elizabeth (Curtis) of Bethesda, OH. She is also survived by her grandchildren, Emily Smith (Dave) of Fairborn, OH, and Nicholas Arnold (Molly) of Vandenberg AFB, CA; and great grandchildren, Aela, Nicole, Vera, and Prescott.

Visitation will be Tuesday, April 2, from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Welch Funeral Home in Starkville, MS. Funeral Service is scheduled at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 3, at Welch Funeral Home. Burial will follow at Odd Fellows Cemetery, Starkville.

Memorials may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or the Oktibbeha County Humane Society.

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