Early love of music becomes lifelong career

By Shannon McFarlin
P-I Staff Writer

(The following article is an abridged reproduction.)

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As soon as you enter her Paris home, it is apparent that music has been a major influence on the life of Gene Richardson.

First you notice the two pianos sitting side by side in the study, then your eyes wander to the framed portraits of the world's great composers, bust of musicians, stacks of music sheets and attractive knick-knacks with a musical theme.

It could come as no surprise, then, that Gene Richardson has been a music teacher for most of her life - 42 years to be exact - and has no intention of retiring any time soon. Or ever, if she has anything to say about it.

A lifelong Parisian who is the daughter of the late Andrew and Sue Abernathy, Mrs. Richardson became immersed in the love of music at home and as a pupil of the late May Corum.

Starting in the second grade, Mrs. Richardson remained a pupil of Miss Corum "all the way through" until her senior recital in March 1949, at which she played selections of Bach, Beethoven and Chopin.

Miss Corum taught pupils in her "studio" in her home at 206 Dunlap Street and, according to Mrs. Richardson was a teacher of traditional music.

Once Grove High School resumed its school band after World War II, Mrs. Richardson became a drum major under the direction of the late Bill Crosswy, and was on the debate team directed by the late Ruby Krider.

With Miss Corum's influence, "I knew I would pursue music in some way after high school, although I didn't know consciously that I wanted to become a music teacher" until she became a music major at Murray State College, now Murray State University.

At her annual recitals, her senior pupils receive a dozen red roses and a framed Heritage Award, which is a framed copy of a lithograph designed by the late Joe Routon which demonstrates the "direct line back to Beethoven' which is enjoyed by Mr. Richardson.

Beethoven taught Czerny, who taught Leschetisky, who taught George Proctor, who taught May Corum, who taught Mrs. Richardson.

She and Jerry Richardson were married in 1957, and had two children, Nancy Richardson of Paris and Anne Forte of Franklin. Both her daughters are music teachers and her granddaughter Sydney Forte, is already in her second year of piano lessons.

Her husband Jerry began managing the Henry County corporate headquarters of their friend and hunting buddy, Hank Williams, Jr. Jerry Passed away in 1991.

Teaching has been central to Mrs. Richardson's life and for many years she combined her love of swimming by teaching children to swim each summer at a private pool at the home of Mildred Travis on West Washington Street in Paris.

"I don't intend to retire from teaching piano," she said "And I hope I never have to. I try to live each day to the fullest.

"It's a marvelous experience watching my pupils change from being fearful and then blossoming. It's very rewarding and I appreciate it more each year.
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The former Gene Abernathy, now Gene Richardson, and her long-time teacher, May Corum, were photographed together on the occasion of her senior recital on March 29, 1949.

Gene Fryer Abernathy Richardson
"was a '49er."

Grove High School Class of


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Among Gene Abernathy Richardson’s mementos is the formal portrait of May Corum’s piano pupils as they presented their recital on May 25, 1948, at the First Presbyterian Church in Paris.

Students include (front row, from left) Jerry Humphreys ('55), Gelbert Neese, Leon Ridgeway ('57), Maxine Maxwell ('59), Ann Franklin ('58), Kate Hamilton ('59), Betty Gayle Ross ('55), Robert Covington ('54), Glenn Gentry ('49), Jack Lasater ('52), Amy Martin ('55); (back row) Joann Evans ('53), Beverly Meals ('48), Phyllis McEvoy ('52), Gayle Guthrie ('54), Carolyn Brisendine ('53), Diana Rhodes ('55), Harriet Wheatley ('51), Frances Arnett ('49), Miss Corum, Patricia Highfill and Gene Abernathy ('49).

Grove Class years for the above pupils are in  ('  )

This material reprinted from
Paris, Tennessee
The November 14, 2004 Edition
Used by Permission

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