Pauline M. Richardson
University First Lady – Professor
Pauline Mayes Richardson’s life was dedicated to Hardin-Simmons University.
Her legacy became intertwined with the school’s as soon as she first registered as a Simmons Academy student in 1909. From that day forth she began a lifelong experience with HSU in which she would hold the positions of student, faculty member, sponsor, and First Lady. Throughout her time on the 40 Acres and until her death in 1965, she remained an active member of the community.
Pauline was born to John and Julia (Hunt) Mayes on April 17, 1892 in Eastland County. Hailing from Hamlin, Pauline entered Simmons in 1909 as a student at the Academy. She graduated in 1910, with a diploma in piano. The Bronco claimed, “she moved her audience to tears with her wonderful touch.” During her time as a Simmons College student, Pauline was an active member of many social clubs, including The Pope Society, Student Council, Prohibition League, Young Women Christian Association (YWCA), Chafing Dish Club, Tennis team, K.K. Club, Mandolin Club, and Pope Orchestra. She graduated with an AB in modern languages in 1912. Her senior biography in the 1912 Bronco states that Pauline was “very fond of Music, Language and the Class President.”
Pauline met her husband, Rupert Richardson (aka the Class President) while attending Simmons College. He referred to her affectionately as “one of the girls from Anna Hall” and his “sweetheart” in his book,Famous Are Thy Halls .
After graduating from Simmons College, Pauline returned to Hamlin to teach school. Over the next three years, she would divide her time teaching in Hamlin and Lubbock, with visits from Rupert, who during that time earned a graduate degree from the University of Chicago and taught in Caddo, TX.
Pauline and Rupert married on December 28, 1915 and lived in Cisco, where they both taught in the public school there until moving to teach in Sweetwater.
Pauline and Rupert returned to HSU in 1917. They lived in Cowden Hall and served in the position of what is equivalent to today’s Resident Directors. Within Famous Are Thy Halls , Dr. Richardson recalls, “We were not enthusiastic about the task but we complied with the President’s request. The assignment proved to be most interesting and it was fortunate for us that we were permitted to have such an experience. Save for a few more scars, a few more boys, who were a little more sophisticated perhaps, Cowden Hall was as I had left it in 1912.”
In addition to mentoring and, at times, mothering, the young men of Cowden Hall, Pauline furthered her education. She studied at Madrill University in Montreal, Canada and the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago for her postgraduate work. After she earned a Master’s from the University of Texas in 1926 she taught French at HSU, and did so for over 30 years until her death. From 1943 to 1953 she also served as HSU First Lady.
Mrs. Richardson passed away at the age of 73 on April 28, 1965. Eleven years later, in 1976, The Rupert and Pauline Richardson Library was dedicated on the HSU campus – a fitting tribute for two beloved scholars on this campus. Along with the preservation of her name through this building, the Richardson Research Center, located on the second floor, houses papers, photographs, and memorabilia pertaining to Pauline and her family.
The Richardsons had one child, Rupert Richardson, Jr., born in 1920. Rupert Jr., like both of his parents, attended Hardin- Simmons, and graduated in 1940. He enlisted in 1942 to serve during World War II. When he returned, most likely due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, he was a changed man. War had taken its toll on the previously happy, charismatic young man who had grown up on this campus.
In 1951, The Bronco was dedicated to Dr. and Mrs. Richardson. The words written by the students are as applicable today as they were then:
“To two who have dedicated themselves to us, we gratefully dedicate the 1951 BRONCO . . .we know that no one has contributed more to the present and to the future of our beloved school than have Pauline Mayes Richardson, M. A. and Rupert Norval Richardson, Ph. D., Litt. D.”
In that same spirit, now 66 years later, Hardin-Simmons University proudly inducts one of her own, Pauline Mayes Richardson, into the HSU Hall of Leaders.