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Eye on the Ball

by: Ross French   (September 2000)

Dr. Raymond Richardson played in the annual UCR/Gary McCord Golf Tournament, and he could be found occasionally in the stands at a Highlander basketball game. He was not an alumnus of UCR, nor was he the biggest Highlander fan in the country.

But the vascular surgeon, who had practiced in Riverside from 1965 until his retirement in 1995, has left a lasting mark with the donation of a fully endowed scholarship for the recently revitalized men's golf program.

The scholarship is the first fully endowed sport-specific scholarship in UCR history. It comes shortly after the school hired a new golf coach, Paul Hjulberg, to rebuild the men's and the women's golf programs. The men's program was dropped 20 years ago due to budget constraints, while the women's team is a completely new program

Extremely active even in retirement, Richardson frequented the golf course at Riverside's Victoria Country Club. One of his golf buddies, retired trial lawyer Mickey Raftery, said, "He talked to me on many occasions about how wonderful it would be if a youngster could get an education and enjoy the challenges and satisfaction that he had received from golf. He decided he wanted to make a scholarship, and was trying to figure out the best way to do it."

Raftery added, "Ray didn't know that UCR was adding a golf team, and I told him they were adding one and had just hired a golf coach. He said, 'That may be the answer.'"

"The team feels fortunate to have been blessed with this endowment," said Hjulberg, the director of men's and women's golf. "It will give us the opportunity to attract top prospects to our university and really fulfill Dr. Richardson's dream." The golf teams will begin competing in the fall of 2001, and the scholarship will help one of the athletes.

That the Richardson scholarship is the first of its kind comes as no surprise as Richardson was a competitor, both on and off the golf course. One of his friends, former UCR Athletics Association President Fred Bryant, remembered, "Ray was a very intense person in whatever he did. He was a real competitor and wanted to win, but could lose graciously. He really enjoyed the game of golf because it provided a release for his competitive fire. He enjoyed the competition, and we used to have a lot of fun."

"Ray was one of a kind, and one of the most intelligent men that I have ever met," said Raftery, who met Richardson 33 years ago on the driving range at Victoria Club.

Raftery and Richardson played in several partner tournaments, and, with friends, played golf courses around the world. Included in many rounds were friends Pat Schenk, a dentist, and Clint Pooley, an orthodontist.

Last summer, Richardson and another friend, Bill McGuigan, the former pastor Calvary Presbyterian Church in Riverside, organized a trip to Ireland that featured 14 straight days of golf.

"The more people got to know Ray, the more they admired him," said McGuigan, "He had an intimidating demeanor, as many surgeons do. But those who got to know him also saw a sensitive, vulnerable individual who had individual who had a great love for his family and great pride in what he had achieved professionally."

The doctor died on June 29, two weeks after he was diagnosed with liver cancer. He is survived by his wife, Rosemarie; three daughters, Julie Omsberg of Belgrade, Maine, Gayle of New York, and Carol Kimmelman of Bernardsville, N.J.; a son, Laurence of Wellesley, MA; and, 10 grandchildren.

Contributions to the scholarship may be sent to the Dr. Ray Richardson Golf Scholarship, Attn: Cliff Dochterman, Associate Director of Athletics/Development, University of California, Riverside, Riverside CA 92521. For more information, call (909) 787-4292.

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