Will Richardson first met Merritt “Buck” Clements Jr. in 2002 as a recent college graduate and newcomer to the world of finance.
“Buck brought me under his wing, taking a chance on hiring me and immediately helping me along in my career,” Richardson shared. “I was able to learn from him, and he taught me how to run a successful business with integrity. Everything Buck did was truly in the best interest of those he served.”
Clements Jr. passed away in 2005, but Richardson frequently reflects back to those days as his assistant, crediting his professional successes as a financial advisor to the counsel he received. “I often use my intuition about how Buck would handle certain situations and that intuition has served me well. He changed my life, and I am eternally grateful for the successes that have followed since I met him.”
Even as Richardson relocated to San Francisco, California, to continue his profession with Northwestern Mutual, his time spent in Tallahassee and working alongside Clements Jr. has always maintained a special place in his heart.
“Buck loved Florida State University, going to games for decades and being heavily involved with the Kappa Alpha chapter,” Richardson expressed. “[Tallahassee] is where I got my start professionally. I enjoyed [getting to know] the FSU community and the great people at Northwestern Mutual.”
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Richardson was thankful for the ability to transition his work to the safety of home but realized there were many in the Bay Area alone who were unable to continue working. “This past year, I started supporting some organizations that provide food and work to keep people housed. It was then I realized education is the key. If we could go back and provide quality education to those who are food insecure or stuck in poverty, we would create a better world.”
Believing in the importance of educational equity, Richardson recently pledged approximately $62,000 to establish the Merritt Ryals “Buck” Clements Jr. Unconquered Scholars Endowment, which will provide much-needed scholarship support for undergraduate students participating in the Unconquered Scholars Program in perpetuity.
“I can see how my life is far better than it could have been through the public education I received and consider education essential to solving the myriad problems of our time and beyond,” Richardson shared when asked about the value of investing in FSU students. “I couldn’t have written a charter better myself as [Florida State] is providing opportunities to mitigate poverty, and I wanted to help in that mission.”
Since its inception in 2012, the Unconquered Scholars Program at Florida State has offered an array of support services promoting overall success to youth who experienced foster care, homelessness, relative care or ward of the State status. Richardson’s hope for this endowment is to continue supporting generations of young intellectuals, much as his mentor did.
“I’m excited to see how these students change our world going forward and help to create a better world for my children, their children and their children’s children,” he said. “[Buck] generously mentored many who came after him, and I’m honored this scholarship will be one of the countless ways his name lives on. Unconquered Scholars is exactly the kind of thing Buck would have supported.”