PENDLETON — Rosalie Richardson spent the last weekend of her life doing something she loved — watching a beloved opera with her daughter and a close friend.
The longtime Greenfield resident, who spent a lifetime serving the community in a variety of roles, passed away Friday, Nov. 17 at the age of 84.
“She had a variety of health issues, and in the end I think her heart just gave out,” said former Indiana senator and Greenfield City Council member Beverly Gard, who shared a nearly 55-year friendship with Richardson.
The two met through a bridge club and had been friends ever since, spending time enjoying their shared loves of opera, bird watching and community service.
“Rosalie made a huge impact on Hancock County,” said Gard, who called her friend “probably the smartest person I’ve ever known. She was absolutely brilliant,” she said.
Richardson served 12 years on Hancock County Council, eight years on the Greenfield-Central School Board and four years as Center Township Trustee.
She was also a member of the Community Corrections Board, Hancock County Tourism Commission, Hancock County Public Defender Board and Greenfield-Central Middle School Building Corporation.
She was a board member of Greenfield Historic Landmarks for more than three decades and an original member of the Hancock County Historical Society, where she had served as president.
“Rosalie was a force,” said Marciann McClarnon Miller, who recruited Richardson to serve as a founding board member for Regreening Greenfield.
“She was a constant cheerleader for doing the right thing. I don’t care what the topic was, she was always that person who was trying to make the world a better place,” Miller said.
“She was such a champion for historic preservation of Greenfield and the whole county, really … and Rosalie knew all the stories,” Miller continued. “She had the most brilliant mind as far as local history goes. There was never a time I was with her when I wasn’t astonished at the depth of her knowledge about Hancock and the surrounding counties.” she said.
Gard said Richardson took her role as a public servant seriously.
“She was probably the most thorough elected official I’ve ever known. She just scrutinized everything, finding errors in the budget and so forth, and paid attention to every detail,” she said. “She didn’t miss a trick, and was very much an activist. If there were things that were going to happen in the city or county that she didn’t feel was in the best interest of the city or county, she didn’t hesitate to speak up.”
Hancock County councilman Jim Shelby can attest to Rosalie’s attention to detail, having served alongside her on the council for years.
“She was a detail person. She studied everything and had so much empathy and concern for everyone. She was such a great lady. We’re really going to miss her,” he said.
Gard said Richardson was equally passionate in all her pursuits.
“She was very much an environmentalist. She knew bird calls and trees. When we used to go bird watching, she could recognize birds without even seeing them just by their chirps and their songs,” Gard recalled.
She also loved the opera.
Gard feels beyond blessed that she and Richardson were able to enjoy one more performance just days before her passing, when they saw “Carmen” Sunday at The Tarkington Theater at The Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.
“Her daughter from Florida was up for the weekend and had rented a handicap-accessible van and took us both to see the show, which we both loved,” said Gard.
Richardson, who had been living in a Pendleton care facility over the past year, was able to make one more trip.
“Rosie wasn’t talking then but she was very aware of the music, and was clapping at the appropriate times,” said Gard, who said her friends’ health took a turn for the worse the following day.
While Richardson will be remembered as a diligent community official, she’ll also be remembered as a caring mother and friend.
“When somebody was sick, she was always concerned,” said Gard. “Rosalie didn’t use a computer, and there are people all over town that have gotten handwritten notes from her. She was a great note writer. Everything she sent was written by hand.”
Richardson also wrote poetry and once won a writing award from the Arts Council of Indianapolis.
She also co-authored a book titled “Hancock County, Indiana: A Pictorial History,” which lists historically significant people and places throughout the county.
A lifetime history and nature buff, she served as a tour guide for many years at the Hancock County Courthouse, the Old Log Jail and Mary Moore Nature Park.
Gard said with Richardson’s passing, Hancock County has lost a great advocate and friend.
“I could talk about Rosie forever. She was pretty amazing,” she said.