By Jordan D’Silva, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross
He is a roaring Oklahoma City Thunder fan. He loves his Dallas Cowboys. And, like it or not, he also happens to be a Texas Longhorn’s fan.
Roy Richards, or “Uncle Roy,” as he has been known for the past twelve years, is not ashamed of who he is or which team he supports.
For the past 15 years, Uncle Roy has been a staple of consistency and perfection in his work at the Red Cross serving Oklahoma.
Born in England during World War II, Roy’s upbringing was anything but conventional. His playground at times were bombed churches, abandoned and left to die. He lived through the rebuilding process there and eventually became a skilled machinist, where he developed a sense of precision and a desire for perfection that he says, “made him the man he is today.”
Roy’s career led him all around the world from England to Canada to Dallas, and finally to the great state of Oklahoma, where he retired from his craft and was left with some leftover ambition to fill.
In 2001, he connected with AARP who eventually referred him to the Red Cross and as the saying goes, “that’s all she wrote.”
Roy immediately found a place where he fit in; where he could use his machine expertise to the max: the copy room. Making copies, printing off booklets, and making sure each job was done with the utmost perfection became Roy’s number one priority. His knack for seeking out flaws in the system became his shtick, as he constantly was looking for ways for the copy room and the Red Cross to run more efficiently.
And over his time at the Red Cross, as he will say very proudly, he has produced tangible change. Roy managed to save the Red Cross hundreds of dollars by convincing the company to get a booklet binding machine instead of paying a hundred dollars every single time they wanted to get a batch of booklets bound. And even in our conversation, he started to give me tips on how to save every penny, lamenting how wasteful it is when people use the color printer unnecessarily. While most people would tire of this amount of penny pinching, Roy’s fellow Red Cross workers appreciate what he brings to the office every day.
“He is passionate and dedicated,” said Linda Akers, a Red Cross grand and foundation specialist. “He’s really a guru for our training and development department.”
Oh, and when asked about the extra time commitment true dedication takes, Roy will tell you, “We’re volunteers right? I’ll stay extra late to get the job done right.”
But Roy’s life is more than just being a strident Red Cross volunteer.
Roy loves spicy food, is a fan of everything sports, and has an incensed appreciation for authentic Mexican cuisine.
He has two grand-children and three great-grandchildren, all of whom occupy his time outside of the Red Cross.
When asked about what advice he would give to a younger generation about how to live life to the fullest, like he has done so well, Roy replied, “Pray. Pray every-day because this life is too hard to do alone.”
Uncle Roy’s moniker is more than a nickname, just as his volunteer work is more than just booklets, papers, and documents. As the Uncle of the Red Cross serving Oklahoma, he is a man that is caring, funny, memorable, sincere, and irreplaceable. The work he does continues to reflect that and much, much more. He is a great asset to the Red Cross and Oklahoma…. Even if he does wear burnt orange on Saturdays.