Kathleen M. Richardson, C.C., O.M. , LL.D.
(1928 – 2019)
Kathleen Richardson – businesswoman, quiet philanthropist, community volunteer, champion of the arts and proud Canadian – was a remarkable woman.
The daughter of James A. Richardson and Muriel Sprague Richardson, Kathleen Richardson served as a director of James Richardson and Sons, Limited from 1954 to 1998, and was appointed Director Emeritus following her retirement from the board. During her tenure, she made many outstanding contributions, most notably guiding the expansion of Pioneer Grain and development of Lombard Place, as well as providing sound governance as the firm’s financial services operation grew into an international brokerage. In addition, Richardson served as a director of Sun Life Assurance Company (1978 to 1998), Barclays Bank of Canada (1984 to 1994) and Gulf Canada Limited (1977 to 1987).
While Kathleen Richardson was certainly in the vanguard of women serving on major corporate boards, it is her behind-the-scenes philanthropy and unwavering commitment to the arts for which she is most fondly remembered.
Although her extraordinary generosity benefitted arts and cultural organizations across Canada, she developed an especially deep love and appreciation for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Richardson’s passion and patronage are credited with helping to elevate the ballet company to its world-class status and securing its permanent home in downtown Winnipeg. She served as president of the RWB from 1957-1961 and honorary president from 1963 until her passing in 2019.
Her lifelong community involvement included national executive committee member, Pan-Am Games Society (1964 to 1970); member, Canada Council (1964 to 1970); member, Manitoba Arts Council (1969 to 1973); member, board of directors and executive committee, Institute for Research on Public Policy (1972 to 1978); member, advisory board, The Winnipeg Foundation (1971 to 1982); co-chair, furnishings committee, Dalnavert (Manitoba Historical Society’s Macdonald House) during restoration (1970 to 1974) and subsequently, committee member for the construction of Dalnavert’s Visitors Centre (2003 to 2007); governor, The Stratford Shakespearean Festival (1983 to 1986); member and board of governors, Winnipeg Art Gallery (1983 to 1991); member of the Manitoba Government’s Education Review Commission in 1992; and chair of Manitoba Foundations Council (1999 to 2001).
Kathleen Richardson was named an Officer of the Order of Canada (1973), Companion of the Order of Canada (1994); Member of the Order of Manitoba (2005) and received an Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Manitoba (1989). She was the recipient of the University of Manitoba Jubilee Award (1975); the Edmund C. Bovey Award, Council for Business and the Arts in Canada (1991); Arts Champions Award for Arts Patronage, Winnipeg Arts Council (2007); and the Royal Canadian Academy of Artists Medal for outstanding contribution to the Arts (2007).
Richardson preferred to make donations anonymously and without public fanfare, quietly contributing to numerous worthwhile causes through the Kathleen M. Richardson Foundation. Like her mother before, she embraced the proverb, “Unto whom much is given, much is also required.”