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Dick and Jessie Richardson on their wedding day with former Superintendent James Branford, acting chaplain.

Photo provided by Stephen Piez from the Branford Collection held in trust by the Adventist Heritage Centre, Cooranbong.

Richardson, Richard (c.1910–1967) and Jessie (Snider) (1910–2002)

By Milton Hook

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Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

First Published: December 26, 2021

Richard and Jessie Richardson were Aboriginal missionaries to Papua in the 1930s.

Richard Richardson, commonly known as Dick, was born about 1910 in a small aboriginal community in the rain forests around Crystal Cascades, west of Cairns, Queensland. His mother was Kitty Courtney. His boyhood and youth were spent at the Monomona Mission further west from his birthplace. At the mission settlement he met Jessie Snider. They married on August 2, 1931.1 Both were very active in the Sabbath School and Missionary Volunteer Society activities. Dick was taught carpentry and Jessie assisted at the mission elementary school.2

When the 1931 Australasian Union Conference Session was held Dick and Jessie were appointed to mission service in Papua.3 They were the first aboriginal missionaries to go to the Pacific Islands. On November 20 they sailed from Cairns aboard the S.S. “Montoro,” disembarking at Port Moresby and transferring to a smaller vessel that took them east along the coast to their destination at Aroma.4

Aroma station was in the early stages of development. Living quarters were primitive. In Jessie’s first report from Aroma she wrote of large holes in her home and the west wind blowing sand through them into the rooms. Dick put his initial energies into building a sawmill to provide timber for better buildings. He and Jessie endured their unsatisfactory quarters while he built a home for Elma Wiles, the nurse on the station. Then he erected a home for Ross and Mabel James who were in charge of the station. During these improvements, Dick and Jessie were gradually learning the local language and helping to conduct five branch Sabbath Schools in the vicinity.5

The Richardson’s adapted quickly to the new culture and conditions. In 1934 they were given the temporary responsibility of a separate mission station, one at the mouth of the Vailala River, while the Fijian national missionary took his furlough.6 On completion of this assignment they returned to Aroma and remained there until 1939. It was recorded that “their service was greatly appreciated by all and, as pioneers, their name will not be forgotten.”7

After overseas mission service Dick and Jessie returned to Queensland. Dick accepted the role of farm manager at the Monamona Mission, the orchard, vegetable gardens, and cattle ranch coming under his care. At the same time he gave Bible instruction to the students and grew into a respected preacher at the Kuranda church. He passed away peacefully in the Cairns Base Hospital on June 14, 1967, and was laid to rest in the Kuranda Cemetery.8 Their nine children in order of birth were Leonard Michael, Robert John, Darrell Alfred, Alma May, Allen, Adeline Ann, Christopher Gay, Ernest, and Grethel.9 Jessie outlived five of her children, passing away in Cairns on December 7, 2002, aged ninety-two.10

Sources

“Distribution of Labour.” Australasian Record, September 21, 1931.

Ferris, W[alter] G. “Dick Richardson.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, June 7, 1967.

“Richard (Dick) Richardson.” FamilySearch.org, Intellectual Reserve, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/GS8R-GDV.

Richardson, Dick and Jessie. “From Dick and Jessie Richardson.” Australasian Record, March 14, 1932.

Robinson, Kevin. “Jessie Richardson.” Record, February 15, 2003.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1933-1940.

Stewart, A[ndrew] G. “On Board the Diari, Papua.” Australasian Record, April 30, 1934.

Notes

  1. “Richard (Dick) Richardson,” FamilySearch.org, Intellectual Reserve, 2020, accessed August 29, 2020, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/GS8R-GDV.

  2. Dick and Jessie Richardson, “From Dick and Jessie Richardson,” Australasian Record, December 7, 1931, 6.

  3. “Distribution of Labour,” Australasian Record, September 21, 1931, 4-5.

  4. Richardson, “From Dick and Jessie Richardson,” 6.

  5. Ibid.

  6. A[ndrew] G. Stewart, “On Board the Diari, Papua,” Australasian Record, April 30, 1934, 2.

  7. W[alter] G. Ferris, “Dick Richardson,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, June 7, 1967, 7.

  8. Ibid.

  9. “Richard (Dick) Richardson,” FamilySearch.org, Intellectual Reserve, 2020, accessed August 29, 2020, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/GS8R-GDV.

  10. Kevin Robinson, “Jessie Richardson,” Record, February 15, 2003, 14.

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Hook, Milton. "Richardson, Richard (c.1910–1967) and Jessie (Snider) (1910–2002)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. December 26, 2021. Accessed December 01, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AIJW.

Hook, Milton. "Richardson, Richard (c.1910–1967) and Jessie (Snider) (1910–2002)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. December 26, 2021. Date of access December 01, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AIJW.

Hook, Milton (2021, December 26). Richardson, Richard (c.1910–1967) and Jessie (Snider) (1910–2002). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved December 01, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AIJW.