Garden Grove Journal, published 1994
An immigrant retired the other day, and they called him an upfront type of guy. Said they had respect for him, because he was always honest and sincere. Even though it was often delivered in blunt fashion, it was never deceptive, and always to the point. So when Richard left Disneyland after twenty-five years of work, those who held him in the highest regard paid him the ultimate compliment
All gave back the respect he had given them.
They did it not so much with words, but with hands, fashioning gifts out of wood, glass, gold, and bronze. It was a fitting tribute to a craftsman, an ideal send-off to a man respected for fairness and wisdom.
“Working here has been the greatest experience of my life,” Richard said. “Whatever it is you’ve got in you, Disneyland pulls it out”, he said. After almost fifty years of work in three countries, spanning two continents, there is too much inside this man for one place to pull out. His is a classic story of an immigrant who grasped the opportunity of America, and made the dream come true. In 1963, Richard came to California from Liverpool, England, looking for a place that would give an Old World cabinetmaker the chance to make a decent living. Back then there were no streets of gold, and no hand-outs, except for the chance to work. Unfortunately, paychecks were not as easily passed around, and Richard found himself staring at a padlock on pay day more than once.
He even tried Canada before coming to the United States, but the opportunity there was not much better than what he had left at home. It was to be America, because here, he could see that there was a chance for an honest; hard-working man to carve out a good home for his family. He could see that this was the place where his children might have a decent chance at a good life.
In America, Richard did not find streets of gold. He too often found padlocked doors on pay days and pink slips on Fridays. His work at Disneyland is only a part of a lifetime spent creating beauty. In fifty years, he has done about all a man can do: He has pushed wheel barrows full of furniture, served in the British Army, and owned his own market. He has built decks on the Queen Mary, and his craftsmanship has added a touch of class from Disneyland to Magic Mountain. Still, it is not enough.
“There comes a time when you look into the mirror, and see that you can do no more where you are,” said Richard. ‘That is when you know its time to go in another direction.”
Today, he is working on making his family business a success.
Despite his achievements, his family has been, and will always be his greatest source of pride. It is family first; for Richard, a dear devotion and undying commitment to what is the most important thing in life. When I asked him who, through all the years, his best friend was, he did not hesitate. “My best friend? Its my family, of course.” He and his wife, Sheila, have worked with their family foremost in their minds, raised their children with fierce love and undying respect.
“Sheila once said, ‘man cannot live on food and water alone” said Richard. ‘We need love and respect; too.” Those who receive his love and respect earn it and it does not come cheap.
It is that way because he is that way.
My father is an up-front type of guy.