Richards worked for Ford Motor Co. in Brook Park for 30 years as an assemblyman and a quality inspector. The father of three also served on the executive board for the United Auto Workers Local 1250 union. Before his career as an autoworker, the Army infantryman was stationed in Hawaii and Korea from 1951 to 1953. Born in the midst of the Great Depression, he was taught by his father that it takes hard work and dedication to become successful.
My dad grew up as a farm boy. His dad had instilled in all his boys that there’s no such thing as retirement. You retire when you die.
My parents taught me from Day One not to be afraid to work because you have to work your whole life.
I started working in sixth grade, picking berries at a berry farm. Then I carried for The Cleveland Press, The Cleveland News and The Plain Dealer.
I caddied at a golf course for a couple years. The summer before my senior year in high school I worked in construction. I graduated in ‘51, got a job downtown at Worthington Hardware, down on Sixth and St. Clair. Then I went from there to the Army in December of 1951.
We went to Hawaii for basic in January of ‘52. We were the first basic battalion to be integrated.
Friday night was fight night, and they’d put four jeeps out there in squares. Anybody that had an argument that week or got in trouble with each other, they had to go out there and box.
When I went to work, there was no slacking off like nowadays. Some of these guys, they’re something else. A lot of them, they don’t want to work.
In the plant, over those 30 years, we hung together. We campaigned together and worked together, and we had camaraderie.
When I worked in the plant, we all stuck together as one.
I had guys who worked 12 hours, seven days a week for 25 years and never missed a day of work.
You give and take. If you can’t give and take, it ain’t going to last folks. It’s got to work both ways.