Richard McLean Outzen, Sr. stood five feet, nine and half inches tall—and, yes, the half an inch was very important to him. Dad cared, loved and led with a passion that few could match. He was a natural leader that believed no problem was unsolvable.
A master storyteller, Dad made people laugh, think and care. He commanded people’s attention when he walked into a room by the sheer force of his personality.
He loved people and people loved him. He asked questions and listened to their answers. He made them feel good about themselves.
Dad knew no “little” people. Coming from humble beginnings himself, he didn’t look down on anyone. Race, religion and nationality weren’t barriers to his friendship. The only exceptions were the pretentious and those that mistreated others. With them, he was merciless and didn’t hesitate to take them out.
Once he attended a board meeting during which the chairman started to ramble. Dad pulled out his checkbook and started adding up the figures. The chairman got upset and thought he would embarrass him.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s stop the discussion until Richard finishes balancing his checkbook,” announced the chairman.
Dad didn’t even look up. “When you start saying something worthwhile, I’ll be finished.”
The next meeting dad was elected board chairman.
Dad was a clothes horse. No matter what he wore, he made you think it was cool. Plaid sports coats, white buck shoes, pink shirts—all were parts of his daily attire. When Bum Phillips was the coach of the Houston Oilers, he wore cowboy boots, a huge belt bucket and a ten-gallon cowboy hat with his light-blue leisure suit for an entire NFL season.
Well, okay, maybe not every outfit was cool, even Mom thought he lost his mind that year.
There are pieces of dad that I carry in me. My 22 years with him taught me well, but it took years to recover from his death. It’s such an odd, empty feeling to know that you lived more years without your father than with him. There are so many conversations that we never got to have, so many times I needed his arms around me and his words of encouragement.
I miss him often and more so on Father’s Day. For those of you whose fathers are still living, please take time to reconnect with them. I wish I could.