Businesswoman, champion of the arts Kathleen Richardson dies
Served as president of the RWB from 1957 to 1961 and as honorary president until her death
Winnipeg's arts community is remembering a passionate patron whose quiet generosity benefited cultural organizations across Canada.
Kathleen Margaret Richardson, 91, daughter of James and Muriel Richardson, died Saturday.
"Throughout her life, Miss Richardson remained a quiet philanthropist, contributing to numerous worthwhile causes through the Kathleen M. Richardson Foundation," states a news release from James Richardson and Sons, the Winnipeg-based corporation that owns companies in several industries including agriculture.
Richardson was best known as patron extraordinaire of the arts, and was especially involved with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
Former principal dancer Evelyn Hart said Richardson left an indelible mark on the ballet world.
"She was really the fairy godmother of the Winnipeg ballet and the arts in Winnipeg. I call her a sort of a gentle giant," Hart said.
"She was a great supporter of the dancers and kept us always feeling like we were important. Personally, I was always supported by her in many, many ways. I could not be more grateful."
Richardson was also a director of the Richardson corporation for more than 40 years, from 1954 to 1998.
During that time, she helped guide the expansion of Pioneer Grain, the development of Lombard Place in downtown Winnipeg, including the Richardson Building and Fairmont Hotel, and shepherded the growth of the corporation's financial services operation into an international brokerage.
She also served in the director role for companies outside of James Richardson and Sons, including Sun Life Assurance Company from 1978 to 1998, Barclays Bank of Canada from 1984 to 1994, and Gulf Canada Limited from 1977 to 1987.
But Richardson is best known for her unwavering support of the arts—and always doing so anonymously.
"Always preferring to remain anonymous, her extraordinary generosity benefited arts and cultural organizations across Canada," the news release states.
"She believed strongly in the words often quoted by her mother Muriel Richardson, 'Unto whom much is given, much is required.'"
Richardson served as president of the RWB from 1957 to 1961 and was instrumental in the opening of the RWB's downtown base in Winnipeg in 1988.
She remained as honorary president from 1963 until her death.
Richardson was also an officer with the Order of Canada, and a member of the Order of Manitoba.