The Sumter community said goodbye to Luns C. Richardson - the longest-serving president of Morris College, who died on Saturday, Jan. 13.
Richardson - the ninth president of Sumter's local historically black college - is recognized as being one of the longest-serving college presidents in America after becoming president in 1974. He retired in June 2017.
During his 43-year career at Morris, Richardson developed a reputation as a "no-nonsense" but compassionate leader to his staff and students.
Richardson was a personal friend and a brother, said Rep. David Weeks, who knew the former college president while he was a student and member of college staff.
Weeks was the first student body president during Richardson's first year as college president.
Richardson was very student oriented and made sure all students were aware of every opportunity to prepare themselves for the future, he said.
He went way beyond a normal president, Weeks said, by giving students the one-on-one attention they needed to succeed.
To his employees, Richardson was a strong leader who required the same amount of dedication from his staff, said Weeks, a former administrator who worked at the college for about 11 years.
"He was a tough president who demanded the best from his employees," Weeks said. Richardson was mission focused but also compassionate in his mission to make Morris a strong four-year institution, he said.
He was as solid an administrator as one could have at an HBCU, said U.S. Rep. James E. Clyburn.
Richardson understood what HBCUs were about, he said. He understood that the intersection of religion and education was necessary to support higher education in the black community, he said.
Clyburn later shared a story of how Richardson helped his father receive a theology degree after he was not allowed to complete his senior year at Morris College 20 years earlier because he did not have a high school diploma.
Richardson's record of serving as a college president for more than 40 years cannot be matched, Clyburn said.
"He has definitely been an influence on my work ethic today with regard to my level of commitment," said NiCole Williams, former public relations director at the college and a 1999 graduate.
As a former student, Williams can attest to comments of Richardson's sacrifice and dedication to the college.
He took a sincere interest in each student's success, she said. "He knew our names."
Richardson also crowned Williams campus queen during her time at the school and gave the bridal prayer during her wedding.
His heart of gold shined in and out of work, Williams said.
A public service for Richardson was held in the Garrick-Boykin Human Development Center on the Morris College campus on Friday morning. A second service was held in Hartsville - Richardson's hometown - on Saturday morning.
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