Stories about my family

Day: August 18, 2020

Rick the Leader, Chapter 4, Pg 5, “We Family”


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.

Even as a preteen he would hang around in the background listening and learning from adult conversation.  Which is why he matured at an early age and excelled in several endeavors before becoming a sought after Information Technology Executive.

Rick at Rock Bridge Mill, MO.                       

His personality was well developed in that he like to do a variety of things.  He enjoyed table games and had a competitive nature which contributed to his winning record in most instances.    What I’m most proud of that my son grew up with a capacity of concern for other people.

           Rick Always Helping                                                     

 I think this attribute stems from innate integrity and good character which shaped his personality and his behavior.   These attributes go a long way in explaining why he is a genuinely honorable  person and friend to many.   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 threatened to drop him into the creek if he didn’t leave him alone.   Of course he didn’t drop him, but it 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. 

When attending summer camp with neighborhood kids, he accepted Christ as savior when we lived in Indianapolis, IN.

Rick married his high school sweetheart, Susan Young shortly after Phyllis and I moved to Tulsa.

Perhaps the most prominent aspect of their marriage is the commitment to their family.    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.  Of course, Rick was glad to help.  He took a hammer and 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.  If you look closely you may see the dent behind the window.                                  Recognizing the importance of education to his  career, Rick completed a bachelor and masters degree 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 rare individuals who can get by 4-5 hours of sleep a night for extended periods of time.

Mike caught several fish that day.  A couple keepers. 

 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.  He is able to thoroughly understand complex issues and reduce difficult concepts into understandable terms and by the force of his personality convince follow workers the value of doing things a new and better way.     

Melissa was a cutie pie with a unique personality which she inherited from her father  (the personality part)         

For example, when working for Cargill, a multinational, privately owned conglomerate, his boss needed someone to study a difficult and complex Information Technology (IT) issues requiring major changes throughout the worldwide organization,

Rick was chosen more than once to head multi-disciplinary groups to study the disparate parts of a multi-layered project and recommend a specific and detailed  course of action which met and frequently exceeded management expectations.

Rick was the right man for the job and was recognized multiple times for his innovative thinking and inclusive approach.  He possesses a unique ability to communicate with technicians using IT jargon to help shape their thinking.  He is equally adept using language of persuasion when communicating with high level business and operation manager while maintaining a down to earth outlook of his professional duties and his outside interests which are multiple.      He traveled to countries in Europe and South America to train managers and IT professionals in policies and procedures developed by his team.

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-togethers.  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.  Phyllis and I love you and your family.  Philippians 4:19

As I wrote earlier, Rick married his sweetheart Susan, shortly after graduating from Derby High School.  They had two children, melissa, who married Ted Burns.  Both are wonderful adults.  They lost Mike much too soon.  Recently, Rick wrote the following on his Facebook page:

“It has been 8 years ago today that we lost Mike. it seems like yesterday and long, long ago at the same time.

In this stressful time when we don’t have any idea what normal is anymore, If you are having thoughts of Suicide, CALL SOMEONE.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline – 1-800-273-8255”

Randy the Preacher, Chapter Four, Pg 4, “We Family”


Phyllis and I believe our middle child, Randy, will have great rewards in Heaven as he and his family have devoted most of their adult life to  Christian service.  More about that later.  Randy was a bright child.  While Rick and Cynthia, who like their parents, had to study and work to get A’s in school.  Randy could inherently grasp a complex concept with apparent ease and very little study.  Particularly in math.

This giftedness was first recognized when Phyllis was teaching Rick math skill using flash cards when he was about five.  Randy two years younger, would interrupt with the correct answer before Rick had an opportunity to respond.

 I retired from the Army in the fall of 1981. Rick remained in Wichita, KS where he later married Susan, his sweetheart. The rest of us  moved to Tulsa and became active in Bethel Baptist Temple.

It was here where Randy accepted Christ as  his savior and was baptized.  Shortly thereafter, Randy accepted the call to the ministry.

When he graduated Webster High School, Tulsa University offered a scholarship in engineering.  During his first semester it was apparent that his heart wasn’t in this endeavor.    His English Professor assigned students a writing assignment about a topic of the students choice.  Randy decided to write about Jesus and his plan for saving humanity.  However, the professor instructed Randy he would only be allowed to write a satire of the “story” of Jesus .

Randy disregarded her instructions and submitted his paper about the REAL Jesus.

He was chastised and given a poor grade.  Shortly after that, he withdrew, married Donna Cobb and left for Baptist BibleCollege, Springfield.

After 2 and 1/2years in Springfield, MO, Randy joined the Navy to attend the Naval Nuclear Power School in Orlando, Fl.

After graduating near  the top of his class he was transferred to Balston, Spa, NY to attend the Naval Prototype course.After two years of schooling, he was assigned to the USS Skipjack SSN 585 fast attack submarine.As a crew member. Randy served with distinction on the Skipjack until it was decommissioned in 1991.  During this time Randy and Donna had two beautiful daughters, Randy and his young family remained in Virginia where he found work as a manager trainee for Camelia Food Store, a multi-state grocery store chain.  Within a few months he was assigned Manager of the store and earned the reputation of increasing operational efficiency and profit margins in every Department.   Subsequently, Corporate Headquarters  moved him to grocery stores struggling with theft, inefficiency and profit issues.

In each case he met or exceeded corporate goals.  Again, he was promoted and assigned to an audit team to examine operations across 52 stores and make recommendations.    Randy was advancing quickly to  positions of greater responsibility and seemed to have a bright managerial future with Camelia Foods.  He did not know that God was preparing him for a future where the  managerial and leadership skills developed here would enable him to weather the financial and cultural storms that began in 2007 and lasted more than a decade.  Randy felt the call of God and left Camelia Foods to joined  the ministry of Fellowship Baptist Church, Chesapeake, VA where he received his ordination and served as Assistant Pastor for 3 of the 11 years in Chesapeake, VA.

During the next 8 years Randy impacted 100’s of lives for Christ while pastoring  two churches.  In fact, the entire family was intimately involved in the ministry.   Donna is an accomplished pianist and singer.  While Randy was pastor of Decatur Heights Baptist Church in Bladensburg, MD  he suffered a heart attack and underwent surgery.

Randy, Donna, Kimberly Alan, Cynthia and Bryan

His doctor advised him to find a less stressful profession.  Accordingly,  Randy began looking for a job where he could use his managerial skills in a less stressful but still in a Christian environment.   He found the perfect fit as Principal of Lanham Christian School, Lanham,MD  and was hired in 2006.  It was the job God had prepared for him at a   time when Institutions all over the U.S. were experiencing  the  declining economy as well as the cultural upheaval that affected Christian institutions in particular.   In this situation several similar Christian schools in Prince George County were forced to close.  Lanham Christian School is a college prep day school  with  over 200  students enrolled in grades K-4 thru 12 The school is fully approved by Maryland State Department of Education’s Board of Accreditation and Certification.   The mission of Lanham is to  shape students to  (1) Magnify Christ as they learn and grow, (2) reflect the Character of God’s person and purpose and (3) to Develop Commitment to self-discipline and obedience that promote spiritual and academic growth.Randy was instrumental in improving day to day operations and returning the school to the mission of providing high quality education to a christain community.

Phyllis and I may be a bit prejudiced but Randy is the most gifted preacher we’ve ever heard.  It is apparent that God has richly blessed Randy and his family.

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