Florence Richards, 83, a community activist, educator and regular contributor to the Whittier Daily News, died Dec. 23.

Richards earned a bachelor's degree from Cal State Fullerton 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 chairwoman for the Whittier Art Association.

Over the past two decades, Richards became a scholar of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and 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 for 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.

Frequently she spoke at the Rev. Bill Miller's Wednesday night social justice discussion group at the Kabob Restaurant.

In 2003, at age 78, Florence participated in her first political protest - against the upcoming war in Iraq - on Whittier Boulevard and Painter Avenue. When a motorist shouted "get a life," the diminutive dynamo retorted, "Read a book."

Richards expressed her views on U.S. foreign policy to the White House hot line, The Los Angeles Times Washington Bureau, Senate and Congressional offices.

Richards was born June 2, 1924, in Indianapolis 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 and initially lived in La Habra before moving in 1957 to their Honnington Street residence in Whittier.

Charles, a mechanical engineer, was owner and president of Superior Trailer Works, which his father established in Los Angeles in the late 1930s.

She and her husband suffered an unexpected tragedy Dec. 3 when they were informed their son, Gregg, died Dec. 1 while vacationing in Europe. In addition to her husband, she is survived by her daughter, Lynn Richards, grandson, Adam Richards, granddaughter Laura Sharp and a great-granddaughter.

Family members, friends and former students of Florence Richards will celebrate her life at

11 a.m. Feb. 2 at First Friends Church, 13205 E. Philadelphia St., Whittier.

Nabil Azzam who is the conductor of MESTO Orchestra, will be playing a piece he wrote himself, "The Crescent" on the violin. Nabil is originally from Nazareth, he is Palestinian, has never met Florence before, but when asked to play agreed with pride to play at Florence's memorial, knowing how much of her time and efforts she gave to the Palestinian people.

If Florence were alive to hear him serenade her, she would be smiling from ear to ear with the little twinkle she always had in her eyes. If you are reading here and live in the Los Angeles/Orange County area, those of us working on her memorial service and her family would like to take the opportunity to invite you to come to celebrate her life. Florence will always be with us in all she has done as both an activist and most loved friend. Please, come join us that day as she would have been thrilled to have you there.