Helen Hope Richardson, 64, who was a senior counsel in corporate law before starting a private practice, died suddenly at her home in Yardley on Sept. 7.
The official cause of death had not been determined but was expected to have been the result of either a stroke or heart attack, said her sister, Ann Richardson Hagmann.
For more than nine years, Ms. Richardson worked as senior counsel for Canon Solutions America Inc. Then, in 2017, she began a private practice as a contract lawyer.
“She was a force in Philadelphia,” Hagmann said of her sister. “She was extremely well-known, respected and liked.”
For 20 years, Ms. Richardson was a volunteer lawyer for many musicians, artists, and writers in contract and intellectual property matters through the Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.
She also volunteered at many United States Golf Association tournaments around the country and at major-league baseball all-star fan fests.
“She was a fabulous athlete,” Hagmann said, adding that her sister used to play for a lawyers baseball league. "All the men wanted her on their team. They would call her firm, and say, ‘Can we have Helen Richardson?’”
Ms. Richardson was born in Wilmington in 1956 to Caroline Willis Richardson and Wallace James Richardson. She grew up in Bethlehem, the youngest of three daughters.
Her sister said she was a very gifted student who could read the New York Times and Sports Illustrated by the time she was just over 2 years old.
“We had a blind aunt who was living with us, and Helen would sit down in her little chair and read to her,” Hagmann said.
After attending Moravian Academy, Ms. Richardson graduated from Liberty High School in Bethlehem. She went on to study journalism at Lehigh University, graduating in 1977. There, she co-founded the women’s softball team and was co-editor of the Lehigh University yearbook, Epitome. She was also inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honor society.
For a time, she was a reporter for the Easton Express and later worked in the sports information department at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, where she also coached the women’s softball team.
By 1985, she had enrolled at what is now Temple University’s James E. Beasley School of Law, where she received a law degree.
Ms. Richardson enjoyed working in intellectual property law because she found it challenging. “This played into her creativity and interest in sports, entertainment and music,” her sister said.
Ms. Richardson was also a talented guitarist, performer and backstage manager.
“She was an extremely loyal friend,” said brother-in-law Keating Hagmann.
“There are all these posts on Facebook saying what a great friend she was and how supportive she was. She was also very witty and had a great sense of humor."
When Ms. Richardson had a 60th birthday party, friends arrived from all over the country to celebrate. One former softball team member came from Pebble Beach, Calif., Ann Hagmann said.
“Everybody loved her. She had a loyal group of friends, and they are devastated,” she said.
Ms. Richardson’s parents and oldest sister, Caroline R. Mead, preceded her in death.
In addition to her sister and brother-in-law, Ms. Richardson is survived by two nieces, a nephew, two grand-nieces, and a grand-nephew.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 14, at St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church, Bethlehem. Friends may call from 10 to 11 a.m. Masks are required inside the church.
Burial will follow at Holy Savior Cemetery, Bethlehem.
The family has asked that donations be sent to Lehigh University, Department of Athletics, in support of the women’s softball program. Condolences may be offered at www.connellfuneral.com.