“I give because of all that’s been given to me,” says Richard Shue ‘69, of Sarasota, Florida, this year’s Lifetime Service Award recipient for Eastern Mennonite School.
Skilled with his hands and in relating to people of all backgrounds, Richard — often joined by his wife Jolene — has used his gifts in the local community and around the world, often in the areas of construction in camp and education settings.
As a child, Richard remembers seeing his parents model service to others, making monthly family visits to Lakewood Retreat to help with construction, serving with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) and in other settings.
His father, Charles, helped to start Sarasota Christian School. Richard attended the school from second to ninth grade before spending a year in public school and then traveling from Sarasota to attend Eastern Mennonite High School as a boarding student.
“It was great,” he recalls, mentioning the dorm, Touring Choir, good friends — some of whom he is still in touch with — and “even learning a little along the way.” Woodworking teacher Homer Mumaw stands out in his memory as a teacher with whom he connected meaningfully.
Following graduation in 1969, Richard attended Hesston (Kansas) College, graduating in 1971. And then, like many young men of the era, he had a profoundly formative experience while serving with Mennonite Central Committee’s PAX program in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) for three years.
Upon return to Florida, Richard took up construction, eventually moving into the family construction business, Shue-Kauffman, started by his father in 1950; later, he and his brother Michael started the family roofing company. Richard continues to work with his nephew and brother-in-law, making it a three-generation family-owned company.
Commitment to service has been core to the family business. In 2000, the company took all of their employees to Volgograd, Russia, to help build a church. Cousins serving as missionaries in the area helped make the connections. The company has also taken employees on multiple occasions to disaster areas in the United States, some through MDS. Richard continues to assist with hurricane relief efforts in Florida.
Richard and Jolene, who married in 1991, have been active in multiple organizations throughout the years. These include include:
– Sarasota Christian School, where he has served on the board, on the auction committee and in other volunteer capacities.
– Lakewood Retreat, where he has been a board member to support camp and conference center programming.
Gator Wilderness Camp in southwest Florida for adolescent boys, where he is currently a board member.
– Christian Fellowship Mission in Haiti, where he has traveled more than 30 times to support local churches and schools by building houses, drilling wells, and offering construction skills.
– Short-term trips with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Ecuador
– And, finally, Bayshore Church, where he has served on the leadership team on pastoral searches, and many other functions of keeping a church operational. “Church life is everything,” he says of that commitment.
Encouragement for youth
Richard values the perspective that service can give people. He advises high school students to “get involved with work projects, volunteer opportunities, and places like summer camps.” And, if at all possible, “go to other countries and see what the rest of the world lives like. This will give you a greater appreciation of the lifestyle you have.”
“Rich always puts others before himself,” says Diana Suter ‘70 Berkshire, who nominated him for the award “He is generous with his time and resources and is always kind. He loves God and serves others because of this. A group of rare and unique character traits in this day and age.”
“When you give back,” he summarizes, “you get back more than you give.”
Richard will be honored during Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 18-20, at a Saturday morning breakfast. On Sunday morning, he will share brief reflections during a 10 a.m. worship service in the auditorium. See details and register here.