Councilwoman Frieda (Chris) Richardson died Tuesday morning after a 10-month battle with ovarian cancer, less than a week after she was recalled in an election that also unseated the rest of the council. She was 68.
Richardson, who was elected to the council in April, 1990, after spending 27 years as city clerk, died at San Dimas Community Hospital. The Denver native is survived by her husband, James Michael Richardson, 78, and son, William C. Richardson, 42, of La Verne.
She attended all but a few council meetings in past months. She had been in and out of the hospital since her cancer was diagnosed last September. She spent 12 days in the hospital before coming home to face the July 13 recall election.
Reached late Tuesday, William Richardson said his family had been heartbroken by the results of last week's recall election, but were proud that Chris Richardson refused to step down from the council in the face of worsening cancer and a fierce recall drive.
Family and friends said she stood by her belief that the city needed a utility tax to avoid cuts to police, fire and other critical city services.
"She wasn't going to quit, to step down in the face of all this," William Richardson said. "That would have been the easy way out. When you make a decision like that and you know it's right, it doesn't matter what other poeple think. Covina was her life, almost as much as her family."
Recall proponents, some of whom spoke at Tuesday night's council meeting, praised Richardson as a city leader with integrity, but one with whom they disagreed on budget issues.
Councilman Chris Lancaster said no one will be appointed to fill the slot between now and the election in October.
Friends at City Hall said Richardson will be remembered as a civil servant who was dedicated to her work. Lured by the small-town feel of Covina, she moved to the city in 1954 with her husband, a wholesale florist now retired. She began working for the city in 1957, when she took a job as a secretary for the fire chief.
Through the years, she has been associated with Covina Area Emergency Aid and served as its president since 1986. Among many other volunteer activities, Richardson served as president of the local chapter of the Soroptimist International. In 1985 she was presented with the Golden Heritage Award by the Covina Chamber of Commerce in recognition of her contributions.
Memorial services are scheduled for noon Friday at Forest Lawn. In lieu of flowers, the Richardson family asks that donations be sent to Covina Area Emergency Aid, Salvation Army or the East San Gabriel Valley Hospice.