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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Memorial Service For Florence Richards, Feb. 2, 2008


Photo by Samir Twair, Dec. 9, 2006, Glendale Public Library.

questioning Mohamed Omer, Gaza Correspondent of WRMEA

A Special Gathering

To Celebrate the Life of

Florence Richards

Who Dared to Speak Out

Friend of the Palestinian People
And of All Those Seeking
Peace and Justice
In Our World
Born June 2, 1924
Indianapolis, Indiana
Died December 23, 2007
Whittier, California
Memorial Service
February 2, 2008
11: 00 a.m.
Reverend Bert Newton
Dr. Maher Hathout
First Friends Church
13205 E. Philadelphia St.
Whittier, California
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be
called the children of God (Matthew 5:9)
Celebrating Florence,
Friends Reflect
Reverend Bert Newton, Welcome and Opening Prayer

Musical Selection:
Dr. Nabil Azzam, Maestro of MESTO Orchestra performing
his composition on the violin, “The Crescent”

George Hanna, Arab-American Republican Club of
Orange County (AARC)
Noor Zubeida Khan (Chairwoman, Muslim Public Affairs
Council Foundation)
Pat McDonnell Twair, Washington Report on ME Affairs
Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak (statement to be read)
Norman Tanber, AARC
Tareef Nashashibi, AARC
Samir Twair, Past President Arab American Press Guild
Donna Curtis, editor, WRMEA (statement to
be read)
Robin McLaren, Peace and Justice Activist
Nick Dibs, Educator/Peace & Justice Activist
Mary Daniels, Peace and Justice Activist
Delinda Hanley, Exec Editor WRMEA (statement to be read)

Open to the audience for additional reflection

Closing and Prayer
Dr. Maher Hathout
Spokesperson of the Islamic Center of Southern California
Senior Adviser, Muslim Public Affairs Council

By Pat McDonnell Twair

Few Palestinians are aware of the articulate speeches and letters Florence Richards composed in their behalf, but on Dec. 23, they lost one of their most articulated and devoted advocates when she died in her sleep in her Whittier home.

Richards, an educator, community activist and self-taught scholar on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, was born June 2, 1924 in Indianapolis, IN, and met her future husband, Charles, when both were students at Mount Vernon Junior High School in Los Angeles. They were married July 30, 1947. Charles, a mechanical engineer, was president of a Los Angeles business his father established in the late 1930s.

Florence earned a bachelor’s degree from California State University and in 1967 received a master’s degree in history from that institution. Her thesis was on the Spanish philosopher, playwright and poet Miguel de Unamuno. She subsequently taught history at Fullerton Junior College.

A staunch Republican, Richards ran for but didn’t win a seat in the California State Assembly in 1981. She was a member of the Whittier Chapter of the League of Women Voters and publicity chairman for the Whittier Art Association

Over the past two decades, Richards wrote articles for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and The Beirut Times. In addition, she wrote opinion pieces and letters to the editor of the Whittier Daily News and Orange County Register. She also was a resource person and discussion leader on Middle East issues for the Whittier United Nations Association and Whittier’s Great Discussion Series.

Richards articulately expressed her views on U.S. foreign policy to the White House hotline, The Los Angeles Times Washington bureau, Senate and Congressional offices. Many legislative aides and reporters welcomed her views and asked for additional information on facts rarely reported in the American media.

At age 78 in 2003, Florence participated in her first political protest -- against the approaching war on Iraq -- on Whittier Boulevard and Painter Avenue. When a motorist shouted “Get a life”, the diminutive dynamo retorted “Read a book.”

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