Della Richardson – O’Connor Woods

Della Richardson - OConnor Woods

O’Connor Woods resident Della Richardson was born on Nov. 15, 1942.  She grew up as a migrant farm worker for the first 25 years of her life.

She went to a total of 12 different high schools, traveling from places like Arizona, Nevada, and Washington.  It was a life of constant change, making it hard to keep friends since Richardson was always uncertain if she would be gone the next day, but to her “it was the only world I ever knew.”

It was also a life of little commitment.  Richardson could not own many possessions such as furniture or appliances such as a washing machine because she lived in a car.

Richardson’s best memory was having her child, an event that completely changed her life since she decided to stop traveling on the road and picking fruit.  She married a farm worker and for the first time in her life, she stayed in one place and began a full-time clerical job.

Richardson took night classes at San Joaquin Delta College.  After 14 years, she got an AA in business and graduated with honors.  She then went to the University of the Pacific and got a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations at 46 years old and graduated with honors.

“I heard that UOP was a rich kid school and I wasn’t a rich kid,” Richardson said.  “Then, I had a junky old car and I thought it might not take me to Turlock or Sac State, so my teacher at Delta said ‘Why don’t you apply at UOP?’  So, I applied and I got accepted.”

“I walked around UOP’s campus for about the first three years thinking that somebody was going to come tap me on the shoulder and say, ‘You’re going to have to leave, you don’t belong here.’”

During a lecture while Richardson was in college, her teacher asked the students if they believed that he could walk through the wall.  The students said no and he proceeded to open the door and walk through it.

Richardson learned that things are not always as they appear or as they sound.

“You should examine the situation and make your own decision,” Richardson said.  “What is most obvious is not always correct.”

After finishing school, Richardson became an adult student coordinator at UOP to help those who were going through the same situation that she had gone through.

Richardson’s worst memory was when her son died of an aneurysm five years ago, at the age of 47.

In 2012, Richardson received the Susan B. Anthony Women of Distinction Award for her 50 years of volunteerism.  Much of her volunteering was through the American Association of University Women, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting equity for women.