I have decided to write a story about each of our three children. Our oldest is Rick.
My purpose, as with other stories, is to provide an informal record of events and personalities which will be of interest to present and future generations of the Burr family.
Richard Allen Burr has always had an outgoing, gregarious and inclusive personality, even as a child. One of the earliest examples of the kind of personality he would grow up to have happened when we was about 18 months old.
When his mother and I were hugging each other, Rick held up his hands and asked to be picked up. When we did so, he put his arms around each of our necks and said “we family”. We were surprised because we didn’t even know he knew what it meant to be in a family.
Not surprisingly, he was serious minded young child. Many times he would rather be around adults than children his own age. He enjoyed adult conversations. I suppose the fact that he was the oldest child of our three children, he felt he should be more grown up.
Phyllis taught our kids to be kind to others and to be friends especially to unpopular children. I think Rick took her advice further than she intended. Although he was bigger than other boys his age, he was not aggressive. In fact, when another boy picked on him and pushed him around he would not defend himself.
When Phyllis learned of this she instructed him to not to be mean but to defend himself. The following day after school while walking on a footbridge across a creek on the way home, the same boy (smaller than Rick) started picking on him. Rick picked him up and took him by the ankles and held him over the side of the bridge and threatened to drop him into the creek if he didn’t leave him alone. Of course he didn’t drop him, but that took care of that problem.
In many ways Rick was a typical boy. For example, when riding his bike at a high speed he wrecked and flipped over the handle bars, hit a fire hydrant and broke a front tooth. He attended summer camp with neighborhood kids. He accepted Christ as savior at summer camp when we lived in Indianapolis, IN.
One more story about Rick before I talk about his unique attributes. The year was 1980 and his brother Randy had locked his car with the keys in the ignition. He called his brother for help. As they discussed the situation, it was decided that they would break the smallest window and reach in to unlatch the door. Randy handed the hammer to Rick and said “I can’t do it”.
Of course, Rick was glad to help. He drew back and took a mighty swing and …missed the window. Instead he left an unsightly dent in the upper side panel of Randy’s beautiful chick magnet. I think that might have been the last time Randy asked Rick for help in important matters.
Recognizing the importance of education to career development, Rick competed a bachelor and masters degrees in the difficult field of Computer Science as a part time student over a period of several years. He accomplish this feat while working full time without sacrificing time to be a good parent and husband. He is one those individuals who can get by 4-5 hours of sleep a night for extended periods of time.
As I mentioned earlier, Rick has a unique personality. Much of his professional success can be traced to his uncommon ability to relate to individuals and groups in ways to promote common goals or even the more difficult task–convincing follow workers the value of doing things a new way.
For example, when working for Cargill, a multinational, privately owned conglomerate, his boss needed someone to study a particularly difficult and complex IT issue requiring major changes throughout the worldwide organization, Rick was chosen more than once to head a multi-disciplinary group to study the disparate parts of an upcoming issue and recommend a unified course of action.
Rick was the right man for the job and was recognized for his innovate thinking and his inclusive approach to involving the right people in the problem solving process. He possesses a unique ability to communicate equally well with the IT Technician and the high level manager. He traveled to counties in Europe and South America to train managers and IT professionals in policies and procedures his team developed.
However, I think Rick’s most endearing attribute is his compassion and willingness to help others. He has taught Sunday School, helped in youth ministry and other worthy community activities. He is what I consider a well-rounded person.
It is not an understatement to say Rick is popular among our grandchildren at our family get-to-gethers. The reason is simple, he’s funny. He can tell a joke, recite funny lines from movies and talk about other interesting but obscure facts.
Most recently he volunteered to help his elderly in-laws manage their affairs they are no longer able to do so. He was asked because he is a trusted man of good character.
Phyllis and I are very proud of Rick and his family. Anyone who knows Rick would be proud to call him son. God has blessed us.