The greatest legacy of Elaine Marie Richard was seated in the front rows at the Our Lady of Grace Church.
The four loving and devoted sons, Ken, Jim, Jack, and Edward – these four scholar-athletes, all graduates of Chelsea High School and the best universities in the nation – led a beautiful tribute to their beautiful mother.
When it came time to encapsulate all that Mrs. Richard had meant to her family and the great example she had set for her children and the family, it was Jack Richard, who stepped to the lectern to deliver the eulogy.
A brilliant, personable man who excelled at Tufts University and Boston College Law School, Jack rose to the occasion with words that showcased the richness of his talents.
“Before I speak for my brothers, I should first speak for my mother,” he began. “Many of you here today have been so good to her through the years, and I know she would want me to begin by thanking you all and by telling you how much she and we appreciate all your kindnesses to her big and small.”
Jack told the assemblage that the day truly was “a celebration of life, a full life very well-lived and filled with great joys, but also marked by great sorrows.”
Jack said their mother grew up in a big triple decker in Chelsea “in a house full of family and faith” where she was doted on by her older sister, Marjorie, and brother, Edward.
Elaine Doherty Richard was an excellent student herself and graduated at the top of her class at the St. Rose School.
“When Elaine Doherty, that cute little girl, grew to become a beautiful young woman, she met the one and only love of her life,” said Jack. “Ken Richard was talented, handsome, strong, and as we kids would say, ‘wicked smart.’”
Elaine Doherty and Kenneth Richard married when she was 22. “The four of us were always so proud of both of our parents,” said Jack.
The four boys were born five years apart. Mrs. Richard would prepare meals for her four sons and her husband each day. She would send her sons off each morning to Our Lady of Grace School. The boys did their homework at night at the dining room table with the assistance of their mother.
“But day after day, every day, Elaine Richard did it all with grace and with cheer,” said Jack. “All in all, our mom, against all the odds at that time and place, she succeeded. She was proud to say she went 4-for-4 with her sons.”
But just as Elaine and Kenneth Richard “were about to enjoy all the benefits of their work – with all four kids in college, they were finally about to get some well-deserved time together for themselves, my young and healthy dad passed away suddenly,” related Jack. “My mother’s sweet and happy world was crushed. She was only 44 years old.”
Following the death of her husband, Elaine Richard “never quit on life and she soldiered on, and day by day, year by year, she built a new life and she taught us a lesson in grace and in perseverance, a truly good example.”
“If you know my brothers and me,” then you know Elaine Richard,” said Jack. He praised his brothers, “Ken, who was thrust in to the role of the man of the house when he was just a college kid, protective of us all and the most solid dependable man there is; Jim, a deeply spiritual man whose faith and his family are the very center of his life; and Ed, the best guy with the biggest heart who would do anything for you, but also with the strongest will of anyone I’ve ever known. We are what we are because of her.”
Jack Richard said this Christmas their mother gave the family “the most important gift and lesson.”
“She taught us how to die,” said Jack. “For two weeks, we had all been taking turns at her bedside, just as she had done with us so many times when we were sick as children. We got to say how much we loved each other. We held her hand and we told her how good she was. She spoke of how this family she had built would live on, in us, in her 12 grandchildren, in her five great-grandchildren.”
Elaine Doherty Richard died on Christmas day. She was 86 years old. She will be missed.