Log in
Log in

Who am I?

Monday, July 20, 2009 14:42 | Tim Richardson

I was born as a very small child.  I’ve always wanted to say that, but it isn’t really true.  I was ten and a half pounds at birth and the doctor told my mother that, “When you’re ready to go home, TK will be ready to leave and start school.”   It’s funny that he called me TK back then, since that is what I ended up being called in the Navy.  More on that later.

I was born in Owen Sound, Ontario,  Canada in October of 1949 to an American mother and a Canadian father.  My mother’s family had moved up to Canada during the war, where my grandfather ran a plywood factory that made plywood for the Mosquito bombers that were being built in the Toronto area.  They housed RAF pilots that were in Canada to train with the planes before heading back to the war.  I don’t know much about my father.  He was killed by a drunk driver when I was three, leaving me, my sister Barbara and Mom to make our way.   My mother then moved us back to the United States where she met my first stepfather a couple of years later.  They married when I was five and had my sister Elizabeth a year later.  Over the next twelve years, we moved a lot as my stepfather was a plant engineer and was getting opportunities to build new plants for companies all around the U.S.  By the time I was to graduate from high school, we were living in Fremont, Ohio and I had another sister, Amanda, and a brother, Daniel.  Five kids total in the family.

We weren’t poor, but we were a long way from rich.  I was brought up to believe that, if you wanted something, you should work to earn it so I shoveled snow, chopped and stacked firewood, cut grass, washed windows and delivered newspapers, basically anything a kid could do to earn a few bucks.  I also sold greeting cards and seeds door-to-door, my entry into “professional “ sales.  When I turned thirteen, I got a job as a porter at the yacht club in town.  Actually, porter is just a fancy name for janitor, because I emptied trash, cleaned bathrooms  and mopped every afternoon after school and every Sunday, I stripped the wax off of the dining rooms and bar area and rewaxed and buffed the floors.  It was good training for life.

The summer between my Junior and Senior years in high school, I got a job at the Heinz plant in town working from 6pm to 6am six to seven days a week.  I was in heaven, making over $2 an hour!  I suddenly had money, but no time to spend it.  During that summer, I worked every area of the plant from unloading tomato trucks to running a forklift in the warehouse.  I couldn’t figure out why they kept moving me from job to job, but it wasn’t boring.  I found out the next year when I came back for a job and was given an assistant foreman’s position in the bottling and canning area.  All that really meant was that I relieved everyone else for their breaks and was a part of the cleanup crew when the shift was done,  Most important was the big money.  I made over $3 an hour and I bought my first car.  I paid $50 for a 1959 Fiat 1200, a cracker box on wheels with a four-speed on the column that could hardly get out of its own way, but it was mine.

I graduated from high school in 1967 with very little thought as to what I would do with my life from that point onward.  My years at Heinz had taught me that I wanted to earn my living with my mind and not my back and I knew I wanted to do something with electronics and computers, but I didn’t know what.  President Johnson was escallating the Vietnam war at the time and every  red blooded young man was being drafted, so when a friend joined the Navy, I went down to join the Marines.  I thought I was pretty tough at the time, having played football and wrestled, but the Marine recruiter wasn’t in the office and the Navy recruiter was, so I ended up in the Navy.  Let’s just say his true calling was in sales.

I left for boot camp in December of 1967, a most pleasant time to visit Great Lakes, Illinois.  I can’t remember being that cold before that time or after, but I made it through as a platoon leader in our training company.  Our first company commander was a Chief that used to get drunk and come to the barracks in the middle of the night to make us miserable.  He taught us to do a lot of things wrong until the Navy caught onto him and replaced him with an E6 Storekeeper who got us straightened out.  By the way, I got my draft notice while in boot camp.  After boot camp, I moved just up the road to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center and started my Electronics training.  I graduated as an ETR and was sent to “C” school in Valejo, California for crypto school.  This was a communications school which was weird, because I was a radar technician, but I went and learned about the secure radio and was then sent to the fleet.

My first ship was the USS Coral Sea, CVA-43, and old attack carrier out of Alameda, California.  Shortly after I got there, we left for my first WESTPAC tour where we sat off of the coast of Vietnam and sent planes in to bomb sites and to support ground operations.  There was another Richardson in the ET division and they would call his name first at muster.  I guess they got tired of saying, “Richardson, R.E. then Richardson, T.K.” so I became just TK and it stuck for the rest of my Navy days.  We were gone for ten and a half months, but I got to see two parts of Japan, Hong Kong, Guam, Singapore, the Philippines, the Sunda Straights going into the Indian Ocean and six glorious days in Sydney, Australia before we came back.  Quite a lot of experiences for a kid from Ohio.

I won’t go into everything that happened on that cruise, or this long story will turn into a book, but I did cross the equator and was duly initiated into the Loyal Order of Shellbacks.  In fact the Captain positioned the ship using GPS on the equator and we were able to swim across it.  At least that’s what he told us.
When we arrived back in San Francisco Bay, it was fantastic, fire boats, yachts of all types and sizes welcomed us and our families lined the Golden Gate Bridge dropping flowers on us.  A lot different from the way we were greeted later in the Vietnam War.  I went on leave for a couple of weeks and had orders waiting for me when I got back, sending me to San Diego and the USS Ticonderoga, CVS-14 an even older anti-submarine carrier.  I spent the next three plus years on the Tico, making several WESTPAC cruises and picking up the two final Apollo capsules and the first Skylab mission capsule.  When they were going to decommission the Tico, they were giving early outs to just about everyone, except me.  Me they sent to the AJAX, a repair ship stationed in San Diego, where I would spend my last four months of service.  It was these four months that convinced me not to stay in the Navy.  I loved the work, but I had just gotten married and I saw what long absences could do to marriages, so when my enlistment was over, I got out and went to San Jose State University for electrical engineering.

My lovely wife Sharon and I set up housekeeping in Campbell, California.  I went to school all day, carrying a full load of classes and worked each night until 11:30 pm to help pay the bills.  I also tutored Algebra between classes to make a few extra bucks.  In all, it almost killed me and I made one of my many mistakes and dropped out of college in my third semester to work full time.  (I ended up finishing my degree when I was fifty years old.)  I bounced around for a few years, trying to find myself, selling real estate until I figured out that electronics was a love and I wanted to be selling technology based products.  I applied to companies that I had come to know in the Navy and ended up going to work for Tektronix, Inc. as a bench technician in Santa Clara, CA.  I still wanted sales, but I figured that I would learn their products by fixing them and I was right.  Ten months later the company came to me and asked me to go into sales for them and I accepted, becoming a Sales Engineer in the Portland, OR area.  I spent twenty years with TEK in sales and sales management, getting moved every three to four years as opportunities for advancement opened up.  We lived in Oregon, Illinois, Texas, Florida and Toronto, Canada with TEK.  My last position was National Sales Manager for their Measurement Business Group for Canada.  I retired from TEK in 1997, and have worked for several companies since, mostly in the Bay Area of California.  I managed to choose companies with shaky funding that released me when the money ran out.  After the third time, I decided that if anyone was going to lay me off, it should be me and I started a manufacturer’s representative business in the Pacific Northwest covering Oregon, Washington and Idaho.  After two years, things were going very well, but one of my manufacturers came to me offering too much money to turn down and I went to work for them as their VP of North American sales.  I covered Canada, Mexico and the US plus most of South America.  I hired, fired and trained distributors and reps in these areas and grew the volume business 70% in the first year and profits by 35%, but too much money was going into engineering to fix old products and I was let go in the fall of 2006 shortly after I had a stroke. 

In September of 2007, my left side started twitching and it ran down my arm and leg.  I was driving at the time and didn’t think too much about it, but my wife was out of town with my daughter at the time and both of them thought something was wrong after talking to me on the phone.  When my wife got home, I went to the doctor and ended up having an MRI that confirmed that I had a stroke, but I was very lucky.  The results of the stroke are minimal.  I still function pretty normally, I did lose my golf stroke and I can’t play the guitar as well as I used to, but if that’s all I have to give up, I’m way ahead of the game.

Sharon and I celebrated 36 years of marriage and we have one beautiful daughter, Kelley, who works for the USDA in Salinas, California.  She has her PhD from Oregon State in plant genetics and loves what she does, lucky girl!

This has gone on way too long, with a lot of rambling.  Of course, it is only the tip of the "Tim iceberg."



  • Tuesday, July 21, 2009 06:12 | Eleanor Tobias
    Tim, this "book" shows that you have yet again another talent!You are an excellent writer! And, with all the different jobs
    you have held, it would appear that no challenge is too big or too small. I'm anxious to read the rest of "Tim's iceberg."
    All the best! Fran
    Link  •  Reply
    • Tuesday, July 21, 2009 08:32 | Tim Richardson

      Thank you for your comments. These days, I'm more interested in having some of those smaller challenges that you talked about and fewer of those larger, nasty ones.

      Even so, I have it good compared to some others I've met. No complaints here!


      Link  •  Reply
  • Tuesday, July 21, 2009 07:51 | Carol Grice
    Good Morning fellow Shipmate and Shellback. Your story and life experiences are facinating. I look forward to the next several chapters.
    I have had the pleasure of having dinner on the USS Coral Sea and the Mighty Ti, however many years prior to your time aboard each of those carriers. My initiation crossing the equator was aboard a cruise ship. We were covered with Ketchup and whipped cream and tossed into the ships swimming pool. So guess it could be said we swam across the equator.
    Hum! The Apollo capsules. I remember that so well. I later had the priviledge of having a Sr. Medical Officer that was with NASA during all of the Apollo missions. He was called back on active duty as he happened to be the only person who was a physician as well as being carrier landing qualified. Talk about a job change. His clinical speciality as a physician in civilian life was OB,Gyn. Certainly a case of rapid adjustment to what opportunities suddenly come into our lives.
    I wish you well in your new venture as an SWVBRC learner. Your history is an indication you are capable of dealing with any situation that comes your way.
    Anchors Aweigh. Carol
    Link  •  Reply
    • Tuesday, July 21, 2009 08:43 | Tim Richardson

      Ketchup and whipped cream sounds pretty good compared to what they had uss crawling through. I can still smell it, at least in my mind sll these years later.

      Picking up the last two Apollo capsules were two of the fondly remembered moments in my Navy days. Somewhere in one of my old slide boxes, I have pictures of the capsule coming down out of the sky and landing in the ocean. The only bad thing was that we spent one Christmas and New Years Eve on station. It always makes me think of others in our military who are away from thier families over any holiday.

      What took you to the Coral Sea and the Tico? My wife'sw uncle was on the maiden voyage of the Tico and I was on her last.

      Thank you for your comments and your support.

      Link  •  Reply
      • Tuesday, July 21, 2009 09:31 | Carol Grice
        Well Tim, it's this way. Dating Naval Officers that can't afford to take you to dinner at a resturant would invite you to have dinner aboard ship. For me that was way more exciting than having dinner at a resturant. I also spent 6 days on the USS Nimitz. A tiger cruise. My stepson was aboard with an FA18 squadron. Thus my invitation, which was the first time females were invited on a 6 day Tiger Cruise. I loved every minute of it and when the message over the loud speaker "All Tigers to the flight deck, of course, I was usually the first one to hit the flight deck. I also enjoyed partisipating in the flight deck FOD walk down. I thought it was facinating there was a mini flight deck below that kept track of all aircraft that were launched and recovered. I did however find it difficult to keep from getting lost. My step grand daughters were also aboard so that helped to keep Grandma from going in the wrong direction. All in all, I would say that was my most facinating cruise. I was careful about becoming a victim of the ships knee kockers. And the food was so good, I gained 10 pounds. I ate in the enlisted mess.
        So that is my story in regards to aircraft carriers. Likely more if I could remember.
        Link  •  Reply
      • Saturday, June 10, 2017 20:03 | Mrs Miranda Bethany
        Good Day Loan Seekers.

        Do you need a loan to solve your problems, Guaranteed and affordable Business Personal, Mortgage Loans at low interest rate,
        Contact us via email :

        Contact Person: Mrs Miranda Bethany
        Phone +13257047206
        Link  •  Reply
  • Tuesday, July 21, 2009 14:14 | Laurel Ho
    Hi Tim,
    Just wanted to welcome you and let you know that I will be back with you shortly when I can spend the time you deserve on thsi blog. Thank you for sharing so much of your story
    Link  •  Reply
  • Saturday, August 08, 2009 06:52 | Paul Thompson
    What an unbelievable life you have had. You certainly are not afraid of challenges. Thanks for sharing. I assist veterans with financing for purchases and refinances. I work at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, the nations top mortgage originator. I can be reached at or 360-574-0753.

    Take care
    Link  •  Reply
  • Tuesday, September 08, 2009 06:38 | Sharon Richardson
    I loved hearing the story all over again! If it wasn't for the Navy we would never have met and thank goodness we did! I truly fell in love with you at first sight, and feel the same way 36 years later.
    I want to walk this new journey with you. What could be better than being a community advocate for veterans. Since I love to talk and also love public speaking, I will find us venues to bring our message to as many people as possible.
    Link  •  Reply
    • Thursday, September 17, 2009 04:57 | Tim Richardson
      Well, Babe, away we go! Thanks for being there for me through the good times and the bad. I can hardly wait to see what's next.

      Link  •  Reply
  • Wednesday, November 04, 2009 13:06 | Kelley Richardson
    Dad, thank you so much for sharing your story! With Veteran's Day quickly approaching, I am grateful for your service...both during your Navy days and now, supporting veterans in their journey.
    I love you!
    Link  •  Reply
    • Wednesday, November 11, 2009 05:35 | Tim Richardson

      Thank you for your comments, they mean a lot to me. I'm so happy that you are coming up for Thanksgiving! I'm looking forward to spending time with you and the "girls".

      Link  •  Reply
  • Wednesday, March 10, 2010 09:11 | Jeff Bier
    Tim, It's time for another blog chapter. I want to read more.
    Link  •  Reply
  • Sunday, May 29, 2011 12:06 | Mande
    That's way the bsetset answer so far!
    Link  •  Reply
  • Wednesday, November 16, 2011 09:45 | Jeffrey Backus
    Mr Richardson, Congrats on your 38 years of marriage!

    Your story is interesting and well written. Please write more!
    Link  •  Reply

DOD Welcome home-small.jpg A welcoming home for our Troops.

Welcoming home our men and women doesn't end after the crowd disperses, it MUST continue on for the life of the Veteran! They've served us, now we will serve them with programs that work so they reintegrate into society.

We are a national public benefit nonprofit organization that educates American Communities about best practices to serve Veterans.  We honor their service by empowering Veterans to apply their training and skills to successfully transition to productive careers and enterprises.

We provide free vocational training 24/7 to all of our members through our website, in addition to local events.  We believe the tenet that American Communities are the ultimate beneficiaries when Veterans claim their benefits and invest in productive endeavors.

The SWVBRC enlists the support of members of local Communities like you to increase Veteran awareness of the value of obtaining a VA card and receiving earned benefits.

Sponsorships, donations, volunteers and support from communities like yours enable us to reach out to Veterans and empower them to transition back into successful, productive enterprises that ultimately benefit all Americans and support future generations.

The Internal Revenue Service has determined that Southwest Veterans' Business Resource Center, Inc. is an organization exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. A donation to SWVBRC, Inc. is deductible to the extent permitted under law.

© 2008 - 2022 Southwest Veterans' Business Resource Center, Inc.

 Privacy Policy

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work is posted under fair use without profit or payment as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and/or research.

Contact Us
Designed by The ARRC® & Powered by Wild Apricot.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software