Modest Oreathial Richardson’s parents moved as part of the Great Migration from Louisiana to Berkeley where she attended Berkeley High. The 1917 Berkeley High School Yearbook shows Richardson’s early interest in music as a member of the Piano Club.
She graduated in 1918, just as the influenza pandemic was spreading across the United States and the world. She survived that pandemic and enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley in 1921, joining the Rho Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority spearheaded by Ida Louise Jackson. She married Archie Tatum while still a student and then graduated in 1922 with an A.B. degree in French & Music.
Unfortunately, Richardson’s life was cut short in 1926 at the age of 26 by another deadly disease of that era, Tuberculosis. After her death, her parents continued to live in the city of Berkeley for the remainder of their lives. They are laid to rest together at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland.
Photos: Berkeley High School Yearbook, 1917; Blue and Gold Yearbook, 1922