It was sudden though not terribly surprising last week when it was announced that local arts scion Sue Richards had passed away. She had been suffering from Parkinson's Disease since 2007, but kept up the good fight up until last Saturday when she couldn't outpace her illness anymore. Richards was only 56, but her legacy and contributions to the culture of the Royal City will be felt for years to come.
I first met Sue at the launch of the 2006 Breasts of Canada calendar, which I was covering for The Ontarion. There, at the Guelph Youth Music Centre, I saw her amongst a small circle of others, talking energetically about her ideas and the night's festivities. She was very welcoming, I have to say, very kind. And from all appearances, that was Sue, full of energy, and idea, and delight, ready to embrace new people, as she was once embraced as a newcomer to the City of Guelph.
Along with creating the Breasts of Canada calendar as a fundraiser for breast health and cancer awareness, she was a co-creator of Art Jam! and Blog Guelph, she wrote passionately and honestly about menopause on another blog, she was Honorary Chair for the YMCA–YWCA Women of Distinction Awards (as well as a past recipient) and she served as both an executive and artistic director for the Hillside Festival in its early years, helping to make it a can't-miss appointment on the music festival circuit.
Sue Richards was the kind of Guelphite I want to be: engaged, multifaceted, multitalented and deeply aware of the uniqueness of the Royal City and its opportunities. Both Sue, and her influence, will be deeply missed. Here's the message posted on helpingfriends.ca announcing Richards' passing:
On August 2, Sue passed away. She had been under increasingly intolerable pain when she died, so our sadness is mixed with relief.
I’ve been going over the names of those who helped her with regular donations so consistently and generously; those who enabled her to spend her last years with us, actually with us — with loved ones, on the street she treasured, among the people she cared about — rather than under institutional care. Your gift was immeasurable. Your whole was far more than the sum of each of your contributions.
It was a whole lot of love.
Your subscriptions via PayPal have all been cancelled. Donations made after her death will be refunded.
On behalf of all those who have been part of helpingfriends.ca, I offer our deepest gratitude.