What: Dedication of E.W. Richardson Building; private building tour
When: Wednesday, May 16 at 9:45 am (program begins at 10:00 am; building tour immediately following at 11:00 am)
Where: The Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE
WASHINGTON – The Heritage Foundation is marking the completion of the redevelopment of 236 Mass Ave. NE with a dedication ceremony to open the E.W. Richardson Building. The 36,000 square foot building, owned by Massachusetts Avenue Properties, LLC, an affiliate of Heritage, will be home to the Richardson Building Intern Housing program, visiting fellows and VIP guests, and three ground floor retail tenants.
The building is named in honor of E.W. Richardson, a World War II B-24 Liberator pilot who was shot down over Vienna and held by the Germans as a POW in 1945. Upon being liberated and returning from the war, Rich Richardson married, settled in Albuquerque and established what became, by the time of his passing in 2003, one of the most successful Ford dealerships in America among other business interests and entrepreneurial pursuits.
Mr. Richardson was known for his generosity and “give-back spirit,” supporting numerous universities and medical centers and establishing scholarships and programs that have enabled many people to follow their dreams. And in 2014, the Richardson Family and close friends made a remarkable pledge to establish a permanent voice for the principles and ideas of patriotic Americans like Rich Richardson. The E.W. Richardson Building, designed specifically with the Heritage Young Leaders Program in mind, is their promise that they will “never abandon the America Rich Richardson worked to preserve.”
“Young Americans are vital to our quest for freedom, prosperity, opportunity, and a flourishing civil society. That’s why it’s so important for us to provide the next generation with the resources needed to carry on the fight,” said Heritage President Kay Coles James. “The E.W. Richardson Building is an incredible resource that will enable Heritage to prepare young conservatives to lead American policy and culture – not just for years or decades but for generations to come. And it is truly an honor to remember Rich Richardson – an extraordinary American who lived an extraordinary life built on the solid foundation of conservative principles – by telling his story to everyone who visits the building.”
The Richardson Building is part of the multi-phase Freedom Center project, a long-term strategic initiative of The Heritage Foundation that seeks to leverage the organization’s unique advantages of permanent presence and proximity to Capitol Hill, a first-class workplace and conference space, and as facilitators of the nation’s premier training program for young conservative leaders.
“The E.W. Richardson Building makes Heritage even more attractive for the most talented young conservatives who will be tomorrow’s leaders and decision makers,” said Heritage Vice President of Operations Eric Korsvall. “Those who participate in Heritage’s Young Leaders Program or other eligible conservative internship programs will live in the best intern housing in the city, but more importantly, they will be inspired by the story of Rich Richardson, who fought for freedom in World War II, came home a penniless hero, but built a successful business from nothing and became a generous philanthropist. Rich wanted to make a difference in people’s lives; he did and still does today through his legacy.”
The Richardson Building has seven levels, with four floors accommodating up to 186 intern-residents annually, six guest suites providing accommodations for distinguished guests and visiting fellows, and three future restaurants owned by local operators to serve the Capitol Hill community. The summer intern-residents, the building’s first class, will move in on Saturday May 19.
The following is the story of E.W. Richardson, which will be displayed in the building lobby:
They’re called “the Greatest Generation” because of men like E.W. Richardson.
Born in the small farming town of Kim, Colorado, in 1921, E.W. “Rich” Richardson learned the joy of flying at a young age. He joined the Army Air Corps at age 20 and fresh out of college was serving as a flight instructor, coordinating teams of men, and later piloting a lead bomber on important missions. During one high-risk mission over Europe, he was shot down and taken prisoner by the Germans.
After his liberation and return to the United States, Rich spent every moment living the American Dream and helping others to do the same. He became one of the top Ford dealers in the nation. He was a compassionate friend to his many employees, a family man, an avid golfer, a quiet philanthropist, and much more.
Prisoner of War
As a bomber pilot and squadron commander, Rich Richardson was well aware of the risks he faced and energized by the responsibility to lead his crew to victory. On February 22, 1945, Captain Richardson was flying his 42nd mission, just one mission away from earning the rank of major, when all of his training was suddenly put to the test. His B-24 Liberator was hit by German flack over Vienna and severely damaged.
As the plane became engulfed in flames, Rich took the controls. He held the plane steady as his crew members jumped to safety. Only after the others escaped to safety did Rich exit the plane, sustaining severe injuries on the way out including a broken collar bone and two dislocated hips. When he landed, he was met by a German officer and taken prisoner.
After being interrogated at Nuremburg, Rich spent the remainder of the war in Moosberg Prison, one of the largest POW camp in Germany. He and 80,000 other prisoners of war were liberated by General George Patton’s Third Army on April 29, 1945. When Rich left the Army and returned to civilian life he knew he would keep flying, and he knew he would never take a moment for granted.
Like America’s Founders, Rich Richardson pledged his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor to defend the greatest nation the world has ever known. But Rich wasn’t just a war hero; he was also a hero to his family.
After the war, Rich Richardson married, put down roots in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and had four children. He instilled in his children the same work ethic and strength of character that he had gained as part of a large extended family living on a farm during the Great Depression. He made sure his children knew that following your dreams requires that you work hard and that it is essential to help others along the way.
It is no surprise that a man as loved by his family and his community was given a second chance at life when at age 73, he became the oldest person in America to receive a heart transplant. This gave the Richardson family, including Rich’s grandchildren, nine more precious years with him.
Building the Business
“As a business man I would put Rich up against Jack Welch, Henry Ford, Jr., Donald Trump, or any leader IBM ever dreamed of.” — John Gebman, fellow pilot and lifelong friend of Rich Richardson.
Rich Richardson was not afraid of risk, and he loved a challenge. Perhaps his biggest risk was purchasing Jones Motor Company in 1961. Rich renamed the failing Ford dealership Richardson Ford.
Rich applied his entrepreneurial mindset and business acumen to Richardson Ford and created incredible success. At the time of Rich’s passing in 2003, it ranked among the top Ford dealerships in the nation, employing more than 300 people. Today, Rich Ford continues to be one of Ford’s top dealerships. Although Rich’s varied interests ranged from owning a TV station to a cattle ranch, he was most passionate about the car business. Richardson Enterprises remains a successful family business.
As a businessman, Rich was best known for his honesty and fair dealing. As his friends and business partners would attest—his word was his bond. His legacy is alive and continues to inspire others. He cared for his employees and made sure they always felt important. Rich wanted to make a difference in people’s lives; he did and still does today.
Leaving a Legacy
Rich Richardson was known for his exceptional generosity, but he never wanted recognition. He supported numerous universities and medical centers, establishing scholarships and programs that have enabled many people to follow their dreams.
His belief in giving back lives on in the philanthropic spirit of his wife Barbara and daughter, Dr. Patrice K. Richardson. As Rich once told his daughter, “You should give back to the community and the people who helped make you the success that you are.”
While individual stories from the Greatest Generation may not be well known, their legacy still inspires us: America is a place where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society can flourish. The America we live in today, where there is incredible opportunity for anyone willing to work hard, was made possible by distinguished individuals like Rich Richardson.
In 2014, the Richardson Family and close friends made a remarkable pledge to establish a permanent voice for the principles and ideas of patriotic Americans like Rich Richardson. The E.W. Richardson Building is their promise to the future, and to their beloved patriarch, that they will never abandon the America Rich Richardson worked to preserve.
Investing in Future Leaders
It is possible to reclaim America and chart a better course for America’s future. It starts with instilling in the next generation an understanding of America’s cultural and economic heritage. The values that have made us great—industriousness, commitment to virtue, and care for neighbors—and the institutions that have made us strong—family, religious congregations, and all kind of associations—will begin their rapid erosion if not renewed with each generation.
The E.W. Richardson Building serves as a world-class residence and training ground for hundreds of ambitious, principled young individuals who are identified as America’s next generation of leaders. Our hope is that each resident leaves encouraged and more equipped than when they arrived in Washington, D.C.
Every individual who passes through the doors of the E.W. Richardson Building has an instant connection to Rich Richardson and the values he embodied: integrity, hard work, and individual responsibility. We send our residents out into the world with hope and courage and, in the spirit of Rich, ask only that they do their best and never forget the true price of freedom.
B-24 Crew Caption:
Captain, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for the job you did while we were in combat; my last memory is of you fighting the controls of the flaming Liberator bomber as the crew got out – and that’s quite a memory to carry through all these years. I have always said I came out of World War II with two personal heroes – one was Winston Churchill, the second was you, my pilot.
782nd Bomb Squadron