By Charleston Mercury Staff
Remembering Ted R. Richardson, Jan. 2, 1925 - July 11, 2021. Images provided.
On July 11, Corporal Theodore “Ted” Richardson, USMC, passed away at his home in Waikiki, Hawaii, at age 96.
Ted Richardson was something of legend, for several reasons — here in Charleston for his role as teacher, principal, coach and counselor to thousands of students, as he faithfully served the prestigious Porter Military Academy and Porter-Gaud School for more than 40 years. As a member of the staff at Porter Military Academy, he was assigned the rank of major, which followed him to Porter-Gaud. As Porter-Gaud is not a military school, his students shorten “Major Richardson” to “Maje,” a moniker which he embraced — and by which he is known to his legion of wards.
For his fellow Marines, Ted was a legend for his service during World War II with Second Battalion, Fifth Marines, the most highly decorated battalion in the history of the United States Marine Corps. He fought as an infantryman at the Battles of Guadalcanal, New Guinea and New Britain. Guadalcanal — where Ted received a Purple Heart after being wounded — is considered one of the Corps’ hardest won battles in history; the fight raged for more than six months, and by the time it was done Marines were eating roots to keep from starving. The Japanese soldiers dubbed Guadalcanal the “Island of Death.”
It is widely believed that “Maje” was the last surviving member of that historic victory.
Marines reading this article might like to know he served with and became friends with some of the most legendary Marines, including Chesty Puller, Lou Diamond, Lew Walt and John Basilone.
The American flag flies at half mast during the funeral of Corporal Theodore Richardson, USMC.
“Maje” became a global legend, and role model for the words “true love,” when CBS News ran a story about his daily routine after the passing of his beloved wife, Florence. Six days a week he would ride three different buses to visit her grave. “It’s payback,” he said. “She took care of me for 72 years.” He visited her upward of 2,000 times before his passing. The story went viral and was seen by tens of millions of people across the globe.
Although it was obviously difficult for his hundreds of friends in Charleston to make it to Hawaii for Ted’s funeral, one former student and friend of the Mercury, Tim Ford, took his family to pay his respects. He was joined by members of every service — Army, Navy, Air Force, Coat Guard and Marines. Although Ted’s service didn’t qualify him for an “official flyover,” word circulated to the Marine pilots in Hawaii about his burial, and they “just happened” to fly over the service … not just once but three times.
Ted’s son, Terry Richardson, is a professor at the College of Charleston but also taught at Porter-Gaud. Interestingly enough, he taught this writer biology and made the subject not only interesting but fun. This is not to say your scribe did well in the class, but he enjoyed Terry’s teaching style immensely.
Marines are told, “Marines die, but the Marine Corps lives forever — and that means you live forever.” Ted Richardson was a devout believer, so there is no doubt he’ll live forever in heaven … but he’ll also live forever in the history of the Corps, in the hearts of his hundreds of friends and fans and in the minds of those who saw the story about his undying love for his wife, Florence.
Assume your post, Cpl. Richardson. It’s time to guard the streets of heaven.