Jacqueline “Jacqui” Richardson, born on August 18, 1954, in Detroit, was adopted by Earl and Patricia (Williams) Freeze. Jacqui and her older brother Don grew up in Huntington Woods, Michigan, and enjoyed a happy childhood, which had faith at its center. Jacqui and her brother attended St. Mary’s Elementary School in Royal Oak, Michigan.
Jacqui recalled that her second-grade teacher, Sister Rose Sharon, OP, was a very special teacher whose faith was contagious. At this early age, Jacqui began an interest in the lives of saints and spent many contented hours reading about them and praying. Likewise, the Sacrament of Confirmation was a powerful experience for Jacqui.
At the suggestion of Sister Therese Mary Foote, OP, Jacqui attended St. Joseph Academy in Adrian for all four years of high school. As Jacqui wrote in her application to Associate Life, “I knew I was walking on Holy Ground. So many of the Sisters at the Academy were instrumental in my spiritual growth."
During these important years, Jacqui considered religious life, but, through many hours of contemplation, came to the conclusion that God was calling her to be a mother. Jacqui preferred solitary prayer and was private about her prayer life. Married at the age of 22, Jacqui was 24 when she gave birth to her daughter Cheryl. Her son David followed two years later. This began a time of great joy, but also heartache as Jacqui’s beloved father died at the young age of 61 and her marriage ended. Through these moments, Jacqui relied on prayer and meditation.
As a single parent, Jacqui needed to find employment. She became an executive assistant to the General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters. Her superior organizing skills were a real asset. Jacqui continued to raise her children and share her faith with them. Her second marriage, to Michael Richardson, lasted 13 years. Jacqui’s four grandchildren – Grace, Cole, Jennifer, and Niklas – meant everything to her. Jacqui enjoyed camping, the outdoors, a good glass of wine, and her family and friends.
Sister Therese Mary encouraged Jacqui to become an Associate, which she did on August 2, 2014. She began to visit and help the Sisters and volunteered at the Adrian Rea Literacy Center.
Jacqui was diagnosed with a brain tumor and, through treatments, surgery, and medications, remained positive. Her ex-husband, Michael, was a great help in caring for her during these challenging times. Under the care of Hospice of Lenawee, she died peacefully on June 5, 2018. She is survived by her daughter Cheryl (Ryan) Henry and her son David (Heather) Hellebuyd, her four grandchildren, her brother Don, and many friends.
“Jacqui Richardson was a sensitive, kind and very efficient person,” said Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, who served on the General Council from 2010 to 2016. “As a Co-worker I could not have asked for anyone better suited to what she offered in her service to me when I served on the General Council and when I was president of our sponsored institution, Dominican High School and Academy in Detroit. … She was persistent in offering to do whatever she could to lighten my workload. When I allowed her to do that she never ceased to amaze me at how quickly she could arrange what was needed, including contacting people who would be affected by events and decisions. I could trust her and entrust her with information I needed to do my work.”
Associate Jane Surbeck, from Fort Wayne, Indiana, met Jacqui in 2006 when she was recommended to serve on the St. Joseph Academy Alumnae Association Board of Directors. “She and I were best friends from day one,” Jane recalled. “I cannot imagine my life without her by my side. We did everything together.”
Through their shared faith, they studied for and became Adrian Dominican Associates together. “It was a very memorable day for both of us,” Jane said. “As a matter of fact, after Jacqui’s cancer surgery she did not spend much time away from home. She did, however, attend Partners [the annual Associates gathering] in 2017, which tells us all how much she cared for our God.”
May she rest in the peace of God.
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