It is with a heavy heart that I acknowledge the passing of my boss, my mentor, my friend, Richard Foster Howes (1954 – 2017). Richard lived and breathed this company. He nurtured it for over 25 years and watched it flourish and grow over the past 2 decades. This is his legacy, this company that he built along with many top level associates and artisans. Richard was able to walk into a space and visualize a design. His creativity was inspirational. He loved reading and learning and that helped fuel his imagination. He would dive into the history of an organization to understand their culture and bring that into his designs. People were drawn to Richard like a moth to a flame. His spirit and enthusiasm for his work, his family, his friends, his world, was infectious. Now don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t a saint and I am not painting him as such, after all Richard loved friction because as he used to say “friction is necessary to make something shine”, but that friction also rubbed some the wrong way, including myself at times! He was a man that always wanted to see people, especially those closest to him, grow in knowledge and skills in order to better themselves. Richard thrived on synergy.
As an avid reader he would often come across books that he found inspirational and would insist on sharing them with those that worked with him. As a result we have collectively read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Who Moved My Cheese, First Things First and The 8th Habit. Although we didn’t always appreciate the added homework we did walk away with a common language. It was that language that enabled us to co-create the company’s Mission Statement and Guiding Principles both of which are embedded into our hearts and minds. It is that culture that was created that will assist us in moving this company, Richard’s legacy, forward in the same manner in which Richard did. Richard built this company on nurturing and maintaining right relationships with people. This has served us very well as we now have many long lasting relationships with some of the top organizations in this city, province and even country!
To say Richard will be missed is such an understatement. His creativity was and still is far reaching and can be seen all across this city and province. His light may have dimmed but his lessons will go on through all those he mentored, including me. I have worked for and with Richard for almost 20 years; in fact it would have been 20 years this month! I cannot begin to explain how much I have learned from him. Richard saw something in me, something I couldn’t see, and always pushed me to evolve and further develop my skills. I doubted myself so many times but through his absence these past few months I was forced to step into his shoes. And even from his hospital bed, and now his grave, he was able to prove to me that he was, once again, right. I am only sorry that he didn’t have the opportunity to see all the strides the company has made over the past few months. Through our collective skills, that he nurtured all those years, we have brought to life his innovative donor wall designs, launched a new division and website and been published in a trade magazine. You would frequently hear “I can’t wait for Richard to see this”. Sadly he never had the chance to, but I am sure he is watching over us now, smiling and patting himself on the back for assembling and nurturing this team of misfits that we like to call the Presidential Team. After all, one way or another, it was always about Richard (you would hear that around the office as well).
Rest in peace Richard Foster Howes. You may be physically gone but your spirit remains in this office and in our hearts. Thank you for taking a chance on me 20 years ago!
Your life long apprentice,
Tammy Rose Kim
a.k.a. Momma Kim