Family & Friends Remembers Richard Washington
All the pews in Savannah’s St. Matthews Episcopal Church were filled on July 7, 2015 as family and friends came to say farewell to Richard Washington.
Washington, a member of the 1954 and ‘55 Savannah State men’s basketball squad that won the Southeastern Athletic Conference (SEAC) championship, died on July 3, 2015 following a long illness. He was 81.
During his funeral service, his son Harold praised his father.
“He loved kids and had a heart for children,” said Harold, who like his father was a student-athlete while at SSU. Harold was a wide receiver on the football team and also ran track.
Harold described his father as soft spoken, but also as a great teacher and family provider.
“He taught me about life, especially how not to live beyond my means.”
He went on to add, “He prepared me to carry the baton and to be ready to carry the Washington family. When it comes time for me to pass the baton, I will make sure everyone is ready.”
After graduating from Booker T. Washington High School in New Orleans, Washington came to Georgia to attend Savannah State.
Washington was a star athlete while in high school, excelling in football, basketball and baseball.
According to college teammate Otis J. Brock, Jr., Washington was a very good football player.
“He was a all-state defensive end in football while at Washington High School.”
Brock stated that Washington was a two-sport athlete while at Savannah State. “He and I were on the basketball team together and he also was a catcher and a shortstop on the baseball team. He was very athletic.”
Brock added that he credited Washington with the basketball accolades that he received.
“I credit him for me winning the Most Valuable Player Award during our junior year.” Brock went on to add “I thought of myself as a better passer, but he kept telling me to shoot the ball.”
Brock stated that Washington was also a good player. “He played guard and made the All Conference team. He was quick and fast.”
Armed with a bachelor’s degree from SSU in 1956, Washington started his career as an educator.
He landed his first job in Cartersville, Georgia, but soon returned to Savannah where he taught and coached at Cuyler Junior High, Beach Junior High, Beach High, Chatham Junior High, and Johnson High School. He also taught in the Appling County school system, worked at the Chatham County Youth Detention Center, and at the Youth Challenge Academy on Ft. Stewart.
In April of this year, Washington, along with his wife Clemontine and their son Harold, presented a check to SSU to endow a scholarship at Savannah State. Washington was a member of the SSU National Alumni Association where he was a Diamond Life member.
Those wishing to make a donation to the scholarship fund can do so by making checks to: Savannah State University Washington Family Endowed Scholarship Fund PO Box 20439 Savannah, Georgia 31404
Following the funeral, interment was held at Hillcrest Abbey West in Savannah.