Richard has battled epilepsy and mental illness his entire life. Born during Eisenhower’s last term in office the doctors in Richard’s hometown of Iowa proposed “treatments” to help with his disabilities. His parents blocked that medical plan, which included a lobotomy.
Richard says he loved camping, looking at the stars, and swimming as a boy. He learned the ways of the woods from his Native American counselors. His Dad taught him how to ride a bike without training wheels too, but most of all he loved playing board games. Richard was called the “game master” and the local newspaper featured him for his passion of games. His favorites include Scrabble, Mousetrap by Mattel, Chinese checkers, Dominos and Clue.
“My Mom and Dad were gentle, kind and loving and didn’t mistreat my sister and I because we were handicapped,” Richard says, “My Dad was a prisoner of war in Korea. He taught me that kindness and patience and understanding for others and being positive in life is the best way to live.”
Richard says every time he had a job eventually his epilepsy took hold and shook him without mercy, labeled a liability by his employers he was terminated. Determined to work and refusing to get disability he traveled the country going from job to job working in hotels, restaurants and thrift stores.
“I wanted to keep working as long as I could. I’m almost 60 and I am on disability now,” Richard says. “I get up early in the morning before the sunrise, while the stars are still out. I take my tent down and pack up, grab my shopping cart, and take everything to my storage unit and get myself ready for the day.”
The same stars Richard saw camping as a boy he sees now as man traveling from the river woods into to town, finding a safe place to rest and get a meal at Friendship Park.
“It’s better to live in the woods than to live in a hostile environment,” Richard says “If you keep it negative, you are just going to stay where you’re at. When you start being positive, you move forward–eventually you will get out of that rut in no time.”