Tribute to Rich
I wanted to share some thoughts about my friendship with Rich. I had known Rich for over twenty five years. When I first met Rich he was a general contractor. At that time I was working for my father’s drywall company. My oldest brother Mark was a full time carpenter for Rich. Over the years, my father and I worked on Rich’s projects and then Rich decided he had had enough of the contracting business and he decided to become a home inspector. About that time my father retired and I took over the drywall business and expanded it into a general contracting business. As Rich built his inspection following he had countless opportunities to refer me for contracting work to his inspection clients that would ask him if he knew a good contractor. There were several times a year when I would have to call Rich and ask him to stop giving out my number because I was too busy to keep up with the work.
Rich would tell me several times a year that I would get burnt out on the contracting business and to get my inspectors license and he would put me to work. And he was right, I got my license and he put me to work. It was a long training process as Rich knew his name was on the line when I was doing an inspection. At first I just took notes and watched him work and then he would let me help with different aspects of the inspection. Then he had me write practice reports and he would correct them like a school teacher (Rich was a school teacher for a while too). I remember dreading the fax coming back with the notes of what I had done wrong and why. Rich wanted things done his way, the right way. He was critical because he needed to be but he was always fair, supportive, and open to looking at new ways to do things.
At first he had me doing the simplest of inspections, one bedroom one bathroom condos. He would have me go with him on single family homes and he would let me do more and more of the inspection. He began to let me write the summary reports for inspections we had worked on together. After putting in my time he began sending me on every type of inspection and he would patiently answer my many questions as he continued to correct me along the way.
He was a wonderful mentor, he took his time, he trained me well, he set a standard that I had to live up to, and I will always be thankful for the time he spent teaching me this business. Spending time with Rich on an inspection was inspiring because the trust he had built with his clients was so strong. He was hard when he needed to be and he would not back down from anyone that tried to defend poor workmanship or unsafe conditions. Rich knew his stuff and if you didn’t he’d school you.
Rich had been battling bone marrow cancer for years, yet few knew. He did not dwell in self pity but accepted his fate and lived his life. Rich was an avid diver and volunteered at the Shedd Aquarium every Tuesday for years. He rode his Harley in charity events on a regular basis. Cancer may have been in his bones but it never once reached his spirit.
As Rich’s health began to fail I admired him more and more. Not once did he ever show that the disease was getting the better of him. He was strong, brave, and humble and fought off death with courage and dignity. Our working relationship had come full circle, we began working as a team, he trained me and sent me on my way, and for years I did inspections for RFH and Associates. And when he was sick we worked together as a team once again, sometimes he would get weak and have to leave, and sometimes he would stay and fight off his exhaustion. There were times when he should have never been out of bed but there he was shuffling along with his little tool bag. He was an incredible man.
When the end was near and when he was too weak to work, as I would do inspections and share his advanced illness with his clients and loyal realtors, many were brought to tears. The respect and admiration for the work he did and the person he was I had never seen before. Everyone that knew him was concerned and told me that I must let them know how he was doing.
I was on an inspection when Shelly, Rich’s wife, called to tell me that he had passed away. Knowing that that day was coming made it no easier to bear. I have lost my teacher, my mentor, and a great friend. He was a wonderful gift and a blessing I will always thank God for. I will miss him everyday, I will think of him everyday, and I can see his spirit in all that is good.
RFH & Associates
8817 Mason Ave Morton Grove IL 60053
Phone: (773) 968-1643