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Frenchtown Forum Celebrates Matriarch Richardson's 95th

July 22, 2007 — A buoyant 10-member political cabinet of sorts met in Frenchtown Saturday night, presided over by the twinkling eyes of Josephine "Fifine" Richardson, who used a smile as her scepter.
Her cabinet ministers comprised of her 10 sons gathered together with their families — the seemingly endless Richardson dynasty — numbering more than 100, according to Allan Richardson, to celebrate the senior Richardson's 95th birthday at the gaily decorated Frenchtown Community Center.
Official dignitaries were on hand, as well as hundreds of guests, to greet Madame President. Gov. John deJongh, and first lady Cecile, along with Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis and second lady Cheryl, had places of honor, though they weren't part of the evening's official cabinet. The Francis's said that they were almost becoming Frenchtown citizens having spent many of the French Heritage Week and Father's Day activities in the neighborhood. "Don't tell the Crucians," the Lt. Gov. joked.
The Richardsons came from three islands in two oceans, and from the mainland. Herman Richardson's son, Marty, flew in from Hawaii, and two contingents of Richardsons came from St. Martin and Aruba. Marty Richardson, a professional photographer, kept busy taking photo after photo of the extended clan, and posing with Madame President.
Josephine and her husband of 66 years, Gaston "Nell" Richardson, who died in 2001, created one of Frenchtown's oldest and most prolific families. In the home almost kitty-corner from the former Bar Normandie, they raised 10 sons — Herman, Minister of Domestic Affairs; Celeste, CEO; Marius, Inspector General; Elmo, Chief of Staff; Allan, Attorney General; William "Woopsie" Leslie, Minister of Finance; Henry, Minister of Public Relations; Raymond "Nookie," Minister of Waste Management; Gerald, Minister of Home Security and; Stephen, his twin, Minister of Health.
As the sounds of the "Lashing Dogs" band played for the packed room, the petite Josephine weathered all the celebrity like a trouper; barely having time to take a bite of dinner before yet another admirer from toddlers and teenagers to their parents and grandparents lined up to pay their respects. As a nod to a former popular Frenchtown eatery, "Lillian's Little Kitchen," everyone was treated to Lillian's special roast pork with potato stuffing, with Lillian serving.
The family celebrated Josephine's 90th birthday in the same place with what seemed then an enormous clan gathering, "This one is much bigger," Allan said, "and it's going on all week." Earlier Saturday, Reverend Neil Scantlebury of St. Anne's Chapel held a mass for the family at the Center. "Mom wanted to have it at home, but there just isn't enough room," said Herman Richardson.
Madame President Richardson didn't leave the party until 10 p.m. "She danced her way out with each of her sons," Herman said. "She didn't accept dances earlier because she knew she would never get to sit down. She's smart, you know."
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