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January 7, 2020 at 8:26 am

University Community Mourns Professor Emeritus Phil Richardson

Phil Richardson, portrait

Phil Richardson

The Ohio University community mourns alumnus and Professor Emeritus Charles “Phil” Richardson, age 86, who died Dec. 17, 2019, at his home in Athens, Ohio, according to his obituary.

Richardson earned two degrees from the College of Arts & Sciences at OHIO—a bachelor’s and master’s in German in 1961 and 1963.

He was then hired by OHIO as a German instructor.

He then became Director of the Language Laboratory and served in that post for over 30 years.  In addition, he taught the Methods of Teaching Foreign Languages and Media in Foreign Languages.

“I will always remember my first days in Ellis Hall down in the lab with Phil when he took me under his wing to learn how to program html for a new-fangled Spanish CD. I never figured it out, but he was always a wonderful mentor to all of us newbies, consistent smile on his face, and so much fun as a colleague: Language Fair, Gordy Space Committee, reunions, you name it. His passing is such a loss, but his legacy remains in the Gordy Lab that is so adeptly named after him. We will miss you, Phil!” says Dr. Betsy Partyka, Associate Professor of Spanish.

“Phil was an inspiration to me as a young faculty in 1990. I learned so much from him as a colleague and as a friend. He was always eager to help and share. I also admired his talent as a creative writer. The energy of his prose will be missed!” says Dr. Daniel Torres, Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies.

Phil Richard holding plaque naming "The Charles P. Richardson Language Resource Center."

Phil Richard holding plaque naming “The Charles P. Richardson Language Resource Center.”

“I enjoyed working with Phil during his career at Ohio University,” says Dr. Lois Vines. “We worked together on innovative projects, such as the Language Fair, which brought to campus many high school teachers and their students.  We created a summer, live-in language camp for students from the Athens Middle School for several years. He initiated a yearly department newsletter for alums, which I am continuing as editor along with Barry Thomas, retired professor of German and Phil’s close friend. As director of the Language Lab, Phil was the first in our department to train faculty and students in the use of technology in language learning. He made major contributions to the Department of Modern Languages.”

“I’ll always remember Phil with his welcoming smile and sense of humor. He seemed always to be in a good mood, which was reflected in the staff of the language labs,” says Dr. David Burton, Professor Emeritus of Spanish. “Even when I saw him not long before he died, he still had that smile on his face and happy. You could always count on him or someone from the lab to help with computer or other tech problems. Phil Richardson held a venerable position in Modern Languages throughout his career.”

Richardson was instrumental in founding the Ohio University Language Fair and the Ohio University Language Camp and directed those activities for over 10 years. The Language Resource Center in Gordy Hall was named after him.

“I remember Phil’s dedication to the Language Fair. He worked relentlessly on organizing, coordinating and supervising all the different activities that brought large numbers of high school teachers and students to OHIO for a day filled with fun language activities and games. Phil believed in this program wholeheartedly, and his enthusiasm became evident in his ability to mobilize the entire department. The Language Fair was his baby! I have fond memories of anticipating this day every year and looking forward to interacting with teachers and students in different languages. OHIO’s commitment to internationalization became real that day every year, thanks to Phil,” says Dr. Emilia Alonso-Sameño, Professor of Spanish.

“At my retirement reception in 2015, I stated that Phil Richardson was the most creative person I had worked with during my 45 years at OHIO. I still believe that. Phil was a true visionary. He was out front in the language teaching profession and in his promotion of the Department of Modern Languages to high school students and teachers. His design of classroom space in Gordy Hall also kept instructors from being forced to deal with unmanageable class sizes. He was instrumental in hooking up classrooms to international television, which served us well until the university eliminated the service,” says Dr. Tom Franz, retired Professor of Modern Languages.

“Phil was the first person I met when I arrived on campus in 1965 as a German Department ‘newbie,’ and we immediately became close friends. Over the years I was persuaded to join in many of his ‘crazy’ but always successful ideas, which usually involved outreach and recruitment. For example: the long-running campus Language Fair Day for area high schools; the multi-state Summer Language Camp; Say There, the departmental newsletter, specifically the ‘Alum News’ section; and his success in dragging me and the department, kicking and screaming, into the computer age in the ’80s. Always central to his efforts was providing students with an experience that made language come alive for them. As the former long-time director of the Ellis Hall and (since 1998) Gordy Hall language lab named after him, he employed hundreds of student ‘labbies’ who, whether they were language majors or not, continue to ask about ‘Mr. R,'” says Dr. Barry Thomas, Professor Emeritus of German.

“Some people make an immediate, if transient, impression on one’s life. Others stay with you forever: that was Phil. He was my colleague, my techno-guru, and my best friend for over half a century. He is missed,” adds Thomas.

After retirement, Richardson began writing fiction and published over 90 short stories in journals and anthologies. His work was published in the United States, England, India, and the Czech Republic. They were collected in two books of his, Little Bits of Out There and Little Bits of Darkness.

Richardson served in the Navy before starting his academic career. “While in the Navy, Phil experienced an almost fatal crash landing in a C47, his ship was crushed by ice in the Antarctic, he was chased by a wild boar in New Zealand, and the Nespelen experienced one of the worst storms most of the crew had ever seen,” he writes in his biography.

A memorial service will be held in the Spring of 2020. Arrangements are with Jagers & Sons Funeral Home, Athens.


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