SID W. RICHARDSON
Sid Williams Richardson was born in Athens, Texas in 1891 and attended both Simmons (later to become Hardin-Simmons University) and Baylor University from 1910-1912. Subsequently, he entered the oil business in partnership with his friend, Clint Murchison, amassing a fortune in 1919-1920. In the 1920's, Richardson's fortunes rose and fell with sharp oil market fluctuations. Then, in the early 30's, with a small investment and support from friends, he struck it big in the Keystone Field in West Texas turning his oil business into a booming success.
With his fortune established, Mr. Sid, as he was known to his friends, was able to indulge his interest in cattle and horses, acquiring large ranching operations both in Texas and Oklahoma. A lover of fine animals, Richardson raised registered Quarter Horses and Santa Gertrudis cattle on his ranches. His favorite riding horse was Dude, a big paint that came to him at the call of his name. In 1942, Sid Richardson turned his attention to collecting the works of the artists whom he felt best portrayed the West he knew and loved, Frederic Remington and Charles Russell. That year, he asked Bertram Newhouse, president of the Newhouse Galleries in New York City, to find western pictures for his collection. Between 1942 and 1950, Mr. Newhouse helped him acquire the majority of the paintings now seen at the Sid Richardson Museum.
The late Texas Governor John Connally, Richardson's attorney during the 1950's and a close friend, remembered Richardson as "a man of great courage, yet soft spoken, kind, sentimental and loyal to everyone who befriended him." He recognized Sid Richardson as a man who loved to create and build, who would accept challenges and pursue them. "He was in no sense extravagant or flamboyant, but rather a plain-spoken man who got along with people of all walks of life. He was very much at home with cowboys in a country cafe, but also comfortable in fine New York restaurants."
Mr. Richardson, a life-long bachelor, was known for his ability to condense complicated situations into simple "horse sense" that endeared him to presidents and business executives. When asked to describe his own business philosophy, he said, "I guess my philosophy of business life is: Don't be in too big of a hurry, don't get excited and don't lose your sense of humor."
His reputation as a tireless deal maker stayed with Sid Richardson to the end of his life. After a full day's work, he died quietly in his sleep on September 30, 1959, at his home on San Jose Island off the coast of Rockport, Texas. He was buried in the family plot near Athens, Texas. Richardson continues to have an impact on his native state through the diverse philanthropic programs of the Sid W. Richardson Foundation.
The Foundation was established by Sid Richardson in 1947. It did not assume its major grantmaking function until the mid 1960s when the endowment was established in Mr. Richardson’s will. During the late ‘60s and ‘70s, the majority of the grants approved by the board were devoted to "brick and mortar projects" at universities, hospitals, and cultural institutions in the Fort Worth area and across the state.
In the late ‘70s, the Foundation turned its attention increasingly toward the support of programs in education, health, and human services that could play a role in "helping people help themselves." It was agreed that many societal needs could best be met if they were addressed by public-private partnerships. So it was that the Richardson Foundation began its work in public education by seeking to improve the preparation and support of teachers and administrators to assist those schools in accomplishing the goal of providing a quality education for every student from every background. The Foundation also continued its efforts to provide healthcare for under-served populations and human service programs, primarily directed toward young people to assist them in climbing the ladder toward successful lives and careers.