Whether it’s for a hug, a word of encouragement or an ear she can lend, Dee Richardson is there.
Whether it’s for a hug, a word of encouragement or an ear she can lend, Dee Richardson is there. Richardson is a retired Wilson schools employee. She drove buses and worked as a lunch secretary at the high school until her retirement two years ago, but she serves as a substitute teacher on occasion. Though she says not much has changed here in a quarter of a century, she’s seen kids — including three of her own — grow up in front of her eyes. “Jobs come and go. Kids come and go. That’s the thing, but to me, they’re my kids,” Richardson said.
Her pride in the school’s athletic teams is bigger than the two water towers with the words “Wilson” and “Eagles” just a few hundred yards from her house. She estimates she’s missed only five basketball games in the past 25 years.
“I get a kick out of watching players,” Richardson said.
She started a tradition this season with the Wilson High boys basketball team. At each game, their manager always finds Richardson, who then offers each player a hug as he takes the court.
“I felt like the kids didn’t feel supported,” she said. “… I don’t know, basically (the hugs) just happened. It’s just something I felt like I wanted to do.”
Wilson has won 11 of 17 games so far — nine more wins than last season and three more than in the previous three seasons combined.
“She’s our No. 1 fan,” Wilson player Theron Weaver said. “She comes with us, she’s our biggest supporter, and I think she definitely could be good luck.”
Richardson’s Eagle pride has earned her a reserved parking spot for baseball games. During the football season, Richardson can be found in her truck behind an end zone at each home game.
An ear to lend
Away from the playing surface, Richardson will put her ear to work as much as her voice. Kids today — and maybe their parents when they were teens — have gone to her when they just need another adult to talk to when they have problems.
“Some will single me out,” Richardson said. “Maybe it’s because I listen. I try to understand what their point is. If I think they’re wrong, I tell them. I hope to help somebody.
Then again …
“I may be barking up the wind,” she added. “Something goes in one ear and out the other.”
But her words — be it those of cheer or those of wise — are important to a young generation in a small town.
“It all goes back to the kids,” she said.
* Married to Johnny since December 1971; children Jim (deceased), Pam and Johnny Jr.; five grandchildren
* Family moved from Velma, where Johnny Sr. and Dee went to high school, when he got job with a well servicing company; Johnny Sr. now works for Sutherland Well Service
* Has season tickets to Oklahoma City Thunder basketball games
* Johnny Jr. is an assistant coach for Wilson High boys basketball team