Archive for Thursday, August 18, 2005

Richard retires after 25 years at university

August 18, 2005

A familiar face will be missing from the Baker University campus in 2005-2006.

Nancy Richard retired in June after working 25 years for the university. She was supervisor of the campus mailroom for two years in the early 1980s before becoming the associate dean of students, a position she held for 23 years.

Baker graduate Frank Rhodes can't imagine the campus without her presence.

"She was like a mother, a mom away from home," said Rhodes, a 1995 Baker graduate in international business and Chrysler Financial quality manager in Kansas City. "She and her husband (the late Charlie Richard) always looked out for everybody. She always had a smile and a bright way to look at things. She treated everybody like they were her children."

Building and maintaining relationships with quality students enabled Richard to enjoy her time at the university.

"The students are so wonderful and so much fun," Nancy said from her BU office in mid-June. "You go to conferences where other schools are represented and you find out how rewarding it is. We don't have problems in comparison to most places. Our problems are so minute.

"For the most part, the students are easy to work with, fun and cooperative. If there was a magic formula for that, I'm sure everybody would get it," she said. "We're just fortunate."

Richard came to Baldwin City from Coffeyville in 1980, when her husband, Charlie, became Baker's head football coach. Charlie coached 14 seasons at BU, where he compiled a 123-28-1 record to become the school's winningest football coach. The former Wildcat coach was enshrined a year ago in the national College Football Hall of Fame.

"He was very successful here, as he was every place he ever went," Nancy said of her late husband, who died from a heart attack 11 years ago. "He liked it here, and so did I. It became home.

"After he died in 1994, it was still a comforting place to be," she said.

The Richards' two children -- Pat and Amy -- grew up on the Baldwin City campus and are BU graduates. Spending more time with her children and three grandchildren -- Charlee, Ryan and Grace -- figured in Nancy's decision to retire.

"I'm going to take care of me and my family," Nancy said. "My children said, 'We need you.' That kind of gave me a purpose. I have to have a purpose instead of sitting and getting older.'"

Health concerns also were a factor. Last November, Nancy suffered a broken leg when her foot got caught on the edge of a rolled-up piece of carpet. The injury kept her out of the office for nearly three months.

"That was kind of a wake-up call," said Nancy, who announced her decision to leave in April. "I wondered how many more years of health I had. I don't have any hobbies. This work was my life -- day, night and weekends. I was here all the time with activities."

Richard, who will receive the Grace Irwin Award during homecoming Oct. 1 for her dedicated service to the university, plans to take it easy in retirement.

"First and foremost, I'm going to try to take care of Nancy," she said. "I need to get healthy. That's been difficult for me to do."

While cleaning out her office, Nancy came across several historical folders and had a bullhorn from her days as cheerleading sponsor ready to go.

"It was interesting going through the files," she said. "It brought back a lot of memories."

She has known Baker President Daniel M. Lambert and his wife, Carolyn, since their days at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo. Dan and Charlie were fraternity brothers, and Nancy and Carolyn were sorority sisters.

"Everybody is easily replaced," Nancy said. "That's a hard pill to swallow. You think you can't be replaced. You know full well two weeks into the whole thing they won't remember I was here."

Peggy Harris, chair of Baker's education department, has known Nancy since 1969, when their husbands coached with each other in Moberly, Mo.

"She's been such a constant force for 25 years here in the student development office," Harris said. "She gets along wonderfully with students. She has such good relationships. She's always so compassionate dealing with students. There are a whole lot of people who have good memories of their time here and a lot of it is memories working with Nancy. Over the years, she's done so many things."

Nancy has fond memories of Baker and the people she met in her 25 years at the University.

"I'll be keeping in touch," she said.

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