Catalina High School, Tucson, Arizona, USA
The Mary Helen Richardson
By Ray Lindstrom

    To say that Mary Helen Richardson was the most popular girl in our class would be unfair to her. It was not something she strived for, she just was. More than that, she was attractive, personable, caring, and extremely intelligent. And, she was a very good judge of character, since I asked her out on dates many times, and she would always refuse, however, very politely, allowing some dignity to remain.

    She went on to the University of Arizona where she continued her achievement and after graduation to work in the offices of Congressman Morris K. Udall.

    The entire class was shocked at her death in 1970.  So young. Such a tragedy.

    As a way to help preserve her memory, friends and relatives including her sister Lucy and brother Bon, both CHS graduates also, set up a scholarship in her name.  It is known as The University of Arizona College of Humanities Mary Helen Richardson Memorial Scholarship and is given to outstanding students in English or Creative Writing.

    We had a link from her In Memoriam listing on this website to the scholarship at the UA website. Recently I checked the link and discovered the site no longer existed. Was it a problem with the site? Did the scholarship still exist? Our class needed to know the answers.

    With that result in mind, I contacted my top two investigative reporters, Ford Burkhart and Pam Morris Samuels to find the truth. And, they did.

    Initially, Ford was given the bureaucratic run-around by the school. Nobody seemed to have the answers.  Finally, a  gent named Ken Bacher supplied the details.

    He writes, "In response to your questions, the scholarship has been awarded every year since the fall of the 1998-99 academic year. It was started with donations totaling $19,000 in November of 1997. The first award was for $1,000 and all succeeding years have involved donations ranging from $1,025 (2003-2004) to $1,775 (2004-2005). Starting in the 1999-2000 academic year, and ending in the 2002-2003 academic year, the award was for $1,400. For 2006-2007, it was $1,425. The award is usually made by the English Department Scholarship Committee in the Spring. The original specifications, approved by Lucy and John Masterman and Bonham and Linda Richardson in 1997, are still being used to make the awards".

    Pam contacted Lucy and she responded, "the scholarship is alive and well, with a succession of worthy recipients made each fall. Bon and I have met each one of them, and they are exemplary students. The positive energy lives on!"

    That is truly great news and if there was ever a poster girl for "positive energy" it was our very special classmate, Mary Helen Richardson.

    Pam also found the new website for the scholarship, just click here.

    Many thanks to Ford and Pam's diligence for helping take a closer look at this project. And, to Lucy and Bon for their work in administering this worthy memorial. Also, to our classmates who financially support it.

    You deserve it, Mary Helen.

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