Richard Williamson’s Bequest Continues His Care for Students


Former CSM English and film professor Richard A. Williamson (left) with CSM colleagues in the 1980s.  Richard has left a $127,000 legacy to support the CSM scholarship fund at San Mateo County Community Colleges Foundation.

Former CSM English and film professor Richard A. Williamson, whose interests encompassed literature, film, jazz, classical music, museums, ballet, world travel, exotic facemasks, and the San Francisco Giants, has left a $127,000 legacy to support the CSM scholarship fund at San Mateo County Community Colleges Foundation. 

Richard was born in San Francisco in 1930 and died from complications due to lung cancer in his native city on May 1, 2013 at the age of 83. 

“Richard loved San Francisco,” his friend Kristi Wessenberg remembers.  “He knew most of the street names.”  A lifelong non-driver, he easily traversed the city on public transit. 

Kristi adds, “Being gay, he [also] appreciated living in a gay-friendly city,” and “I’m not sure when he became a fan of the Giants, but all the years I knew him he would go to some games and follow all the others on the radio.”

Richard also travelled widely with his partner James Young, who predeceased him in 2010.  Kristi, a medical librarian, met Richard and James in Bali during their second visit there.  “They travelled to over 40 countries,” she says, “They went multiple times to India, Mexico, and Bali.  After we met in Bali, we did a lot of trips together.”   Multiple souvenir artworks—whose creators and provenance Richard recalled with catalogue accuracy— adorned the walls of his and James’ home, along with facemasks and cat photos.

After serving in the US Navy from 1951 to 1958, Richard earned a master’s degree from San Francisco State University and taught English and film for almost 40 years, working at CSM from 1963 to 1996.  

Richard teaching CSM film students

Richard teaching CSM film students

His estate plan reflects his profound commitment to CSM and its students.  “Richard had come to the conclusion that community colleges are a vital part of the educational framework,” Kristi says.  “He felt they needed all the help they can get.”

Louise Nayer, Richard’s friend and CSM teaching colleague who frequently commuted with him from San Francisco to CSM, describes him as highly intelligent with a “wonderful sense of humor.”

“He loved writing,” she says.  “He and I were both writers and often shared our writing with each other.  He was able to locate what needed to be worked on and to say it in a way that was always helpful.” 

At work, Louise noticed Richard’s easy rapport with his students.  “I saw the cascade of students who came to see him in his office,” she remembers. “He was always friendly, open, and willing to help.  He never demeaned anyone…students would want to work hard for him because he cared about them.”

Professor Williamson chose to continue his care for students through his bequest to the Foundation’s CSM scholarship fund, and we are honored to enroll him as a member of our Legacy Society. 

Richard (right) helping to edit a film

Richard (right) and fellow film professor Joe Price editing a film

For more information about the Legacy Society, please contact us at 650.574.6229 or