To the Editor:
This morning in South Africa I opened my email to hear that Stu Richardson passed yesterday. He will be missed.
Stu Richardson was one of the first people that I got to know in Marion. He had been approached years before by Ernie, the much-loved Pastor of Saint Gabriel’s, where Stu served just about every function at one time or another, to lead an effort to address affordable housing in Marion. While Stu was always very busy volunteering for many things, he simply said “OK” and picked up the challenge. Stu was extremely fortunate to have his wonderful wife, Mary, who spent many hours and many dinners alone while Stu engaged in issues across the board for the Town, supporting him without question. He volunteered and created the Marion Housing Committee around 16 years ago. A few years later, he asked me if I would be willing to participate. With Stu, you just couldn’t say no. I quickly realized that Stu had great ambitions for preserving the socio-economic diversity of the Town of Marion and for Marion taking care of our seniors and people at risk in general. It was Stu who first called out the risks of 40B and the need for Marion to control our own destiny. Stu authored the first Marion Affordable Housing Plan. He worked with DHCD to get us units that qualified for the Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI) and did everything he could to protect us from the ills of 40B, while expanding the affordable options for the people of our town.
Stu was the force behind the expansion of Little Neck Village. He set up the structures that became the Marion Affordable Housing Trust – protecting us from serious downsides of alternatives like a Housing Authority. It was his plan that called for affordable accessory dwelling units, leveraging of partnerships with Habitat for Humanity, setting the stage for affordable apartments in new and redeveloped projects, and all the attempts to make it attractive to provide high-quality affordable housing opportunities for our friends and families. When it came time to formalize the legal standing of the Housing Committee and create the Affordable Housing Trust, Stu extremely graciously stepped aside in favor of an entirely new team of Marion residents to pick up the ball. That year, he was voted Marion Person of the Year and recognized at Town Meeting – which he did ever so humbly, as he had always done.
I have no doubt that Stu did many other great things in his life. But, what I knew of his efforts qualify him in a category we should all strive for; one that will enable us each to look back on a life well-served. His legacy is clear in his exceptional family and all around us. He was my friend, and for that I will always be grateful.
Well done, Stu! Thank you for everything!