Richmond State Supported Living Center: A History of Dignity and Respect

Article Published in Absolutely! Brazos:


In the early 1800s, when the leaders of Fort Bend County sat down to structure the most essential needs of the community, schooling was a top priority. Public schools were implemented to teach students the basic necessities of reading, writing and arithmetic. Schools were a one-room building, and teachers taught students of all ages and abilities. Special needs children were forced to learn at the same pace as the others. When behavior and learning skills were addressed, parents were requested to place their child in an asylum instead of a school. This difficult decision resulted in a demoralizing environment where people were treated with cruel discipline. Many years later, the Richmond State School opened to place children and adults in an exclusive school to foster their needs and to teach them lessons for life. Vaclav Pultar, a Russian immigrant, came to the United States in 1910 with his family to begin life again as cotton farmers. The Pultar family lived near Rosenberg, and Vaclav loved to go fishing at Rocky Falls in Richmond. In 1923, Vaclav purchased 200 acres of land at Rocky Falls on the Brazos River. He recalled, "From the time I moved on this land, I had a dream in the back of my mind that someday I would have an old folks’ home or an orphanage on this property.”In 1960, Richmond residents Lila Thompson and Rhydonia Jones determined to start a school for the mentally disabled in the area. They met with Wharton Weems of The George Foundation to see what could be done. The Board of Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation were willing to build a facility if the ladies could secure the necessary land. In 1961, Vaclav sold the land to The George Foundation for $100,000 to start a school for citizens with special needs. Vaclav, thrilled that his lifetime dream was accomplished, donated the money to his church.In April 1968, Richmond State School for the Mentally Retarded was opened, admitting 450 residents. The school served children, youth and primarily adults who lived on the property. Seven units in 11 buildings housed residents, and care and supervision were a top priority. The school offered an intensive physical therapy program, as well as daily education classes.In 1981, Russell Moody sustained a serious brain injury in a motor vehicle accident. His father, Robert, created the Transitional Learning Center at Moody Gardens in Galveston with the purpose to begin a hippotherapy riding program for people with brain injuries. Using horses to encourage physical rehabilitation and increase speech use proved to be highly effective in occupational therapy.On March 26, 1992, the Jesse H. Jones Wing of the Rehabilitation and Therapeutic Center opened in Richmond. In addition to the extensive and effective therapy programs, the Russell Shearn Moody Riding Arena and the Reva Williams Petting Zoo was created on the property, enhancing the advantages to the community. In 1994, recreational and behavioral programs, along with expanded medical and dental offices, continued to improve the basic care for the residents.Today, the center is renamed Richmond State Supported Living Center and is a community of over 340 adults living with intellectual disabilities from ages 20 to 90. A team of professionals design an individualized program that meets their needs 24/7. In 2018, the center will celebrate 50 years of success. They will continue to serve Fort Bend County with a highly qualified staff and volunteer base seeking to improve the quality of life, one person at a time.

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