On Sunday, April 2, 2023, Barbara Juanita Richardson of Mitchellville, MD departed this life.
Barbara was born in Tallahassee, Florida on February 3, 1943, to the late Olson Gardner “OG” Gilliam and Susie Simmons Gilliam.
Barbara grew up in Harlem with 3 other siblings, the oldest in the household, and attended her neighborhood New York City public elementary and middle schools. She pursued an interest in math by attending tutoring programs offered at the neighborhood armory and attended the all-girls Julia Richman High School on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She was chosen by her teachers for the Leadership Program in Physical Education because she excelled in sports, especially volleyball and girls' basketball. She majored in math at City College of New York and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Liberal Arts and Science in 1964.
Filling a pressing need for public school teachers, Barbara became a math teacher at Edward W. Stitt Junior High School in 1964, teaching 7th, 8th, and 9th graders. Barbara enjoyed teaching math telling her students, "We use math every day! Eventually, if you admit it, you will find you are always using it."
In 1965 she married Robert F. Richardson and had her first child, Cherise, in 1966. In 1970 the family moved to Teaneck, NJ soon after the birth of her second child, Rob. Despite a very demanding career, supporting her children in their activities and providing them with opportunities was a central part of her life, including serving as a Class Mother as well as a Cub Scout Den leader. Barbara maintained custody of her children when she and Bob divorced sometime around 1980, and several years later she met Bruce Beverly who then became her life partner for over 25 years. Barbara and Bruce enjoyed trips to the Poconos and Atlantic City, taking cruises and visiting with their families.
In addition to her love of card and board games, Barbara enjoyed all puzzles - especially the Samurai Sudoku from the Sunday Washington Post, working on jigsaw puzzles and playing “Candy Crush” and "Word Chums" with her grandson, niece, friends, and family. She enjoyed watching Wheel of Fortune daily, crime and murder mystery shows, and soap operas. Barbara read and also owned almost every James Patterson book ever written. She loved to dance, kept up with the latest R&B music of the day, and had an extensive album collection. Her favorite color was blue, she liked roses and she loved shrimp and chocolate. She was the rock of her family, heavily relied upon by her parents, her siblings, and her children.
Barbara returned to her alma mater City College of the City University of New York (CUNY) two more times to continue her education earning a Master of Arts degree in Math in 1968 and a Master of Science Degree in Educational Administration in 1977. As a lifelong learner, she enjoyed attending workshops and conferences to further her knowledge, which included leadership training at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Principals’ Center in 2001. She was also a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority where she developed dear friendships that she maintained throughout her life.
Ms. Richardson made many friends and enjoyed a wonderful education career at Stitt, rising to Assistant Principal in 1986, Principal in 1996, and retiring in 2003. During her educational career she was a coach of the math team, a Title 1 Coordinator ensuring that all children - regardless of family income - could acquire an equitable and quality education, and a teacher for the Upward Bound program at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU), providing preparation and pre-college support to high school students from low-income families and families where neither parent holds a college degree.
Her retirement in 2003 was celebrated by taking a wonderful cruise with her family. Later that year she experienced the birth of her grandson, Jalen, whom she absolutely adored. That year also marked the time when she needed to begin taking care of her mother who was diagnosed with dementia. Her mother Susie passed away in 2016, one year after her partner Bruce had passed away.
In 2020, Barbara moved from Teaneck, NJ to Mitchellville, MD to be closer to her family. She made her new home at the Collington senior living community. Although her mind remained sharp and her personality was intact, her body eventually succumbed to a deteriorating congestive heart failure condition and a weakened heart that could no longer sustain her.
In addition to her parents, Barbara is preceded in death by her brother Lester Gilliam (Diane), brother Olson Gilliam. Jr. (Linda), sister Beverly Rivers, longtime partner Bruce D. Beverly and former husband Robert F. Richardson.
Barbara will be greatly missed by her daughter Cherise S. Richardson of Alexandria, VA, son Robert S. Richardson (Kerry) of Washington, DC, grandson Jalen R. Richardson of Washington, DC, stepson Darrell Beverly (Tawana) of Snellville, GA, sister Pauline Hilton, uncle Robert Simmons (Arleen) of West Orange, NJ, sister-in-law Lenore Cannon of Suwanee, GA, niece Sabrina Gilliam Formey (Scott “Kwa”) of Montclair, NJ, nephew David Smith of New York, NY, niece Shareena Gilliam of New York, NY, nephew Olson Gilliam III (Rosa) of Apopka, FL, nephew Seth Gilliam (Leah) of New York, NY, niece Alisha Jackson of Cornwall, NY, nieces Vaughnda Hilton and Raquel J. Hilton-Crawley of Philadelphia, PA, niece Leigh-Anne Cannon of Lawrenceville, GA, nephew Scott Cannon of Snellville, GA, cousin Mark Simmons of Bethesda, MD, cousin Richard Crump of Rockville, MD, and a host of family and friends.
A viewing will be held on Saturday, April 22nd at 10 am which will be immediately followed by a funeral service from 11 am until 12:30 pm at Beall Funeral Home located at 6512 Crain Highway (Rt. 3 South), in Bowie, Maryland.
Following the funeral, a repast will be held from 1 pm to 4 pm where Barbara lived, at the Collington senior living community, 10450 Lottsford Road, Mitchellville, Maryland in “The Landing” Bistro. During the repast an opportunity to visit her home, apartment 368, will be available for those who are interested.
The burial will take place the following day at 11:30 am on Sunday, April 23rd at National Harmony Memorial Park, 7101 Sheriff Road, Hyattsville, Maryland.