EL DORADO HILLS — A local World War II veteran is being honored for more than his service.
“I was the first convoy to arrive in Pearl Harbor after the bombing,” said Wally Richardson.
Richardson is being recognized for his heart.
“He helps (students) know that they can make a difference, just in their sphere, and that’s been powerful for our kids,” said Marina Village Middle School Principal Levi Cambridge.
Every day for nearly 20 years, Richardson has woken up early to wave to kids on their way to Marina Village Middle School. Sometimes he’ll even give out fist bumps.
During his acts of kindness, Richardson also sends an important message to the next generation.
“I started giving them little sayings, like, ‘Never look down on anyone unless you’re helping them up,’ and they liked that,” he said.
The 95-year-old has shared some of his 200-plus words of wisdom, or as he puts it “Wally-isms,” on mugs and bookmarks for students to carry with them throughout their lives.
“You never know what will register with each particular person,” Richardson said. “If you say something with love and kindness, that will help carry that person through their life or save them from doing something stupid. That’s important.”
His neighbors in El Dorado Hills have nominated Richardson for the impact he’s made by connecting with young people.
“Wally’s work with our students is really important because it helps reinforce the values and commitments to a good climate and community that we are striving for,” Cambridge said.
Richardson said his life motto is to choose love and kindness above all else and to always treat others with patience and respect. He also tells the little ones, “Your words matter and your actions define you.”
“I tell the kids, ‘What you’re doing today as you go to school, added onto what you did yesterday and the rest of your life, and tomorrow you’re gonna add on some more, that’s part of your persona. That’s who you are,'” he said. “So if you pass out a lot of hate and anger, it’s going to register with your aura. If you work with love and kindness all the time, people will respond the same way.”
Richardson said his lessons don’t always resonate with everyone but if he could make a difference in just one child’s life, he feels it can help make the world a brighter, happier place.
“There’s so much hate and anger in our country and in our world today. There’s no need for it. If they would take their hate and anger change it to love and kindness, think how much better we’d be,” Richardson said.