By Becki Zschiedrich, AFRH-G Public Affairs
Rick Eyman was born March 31, 1946 in Gary, Indiana and raised in Lorraine, Ohio. He decided to join the Air Force when he was a young man searching for his destiny (back in the day they called it spinning the wheels). Rick wanted adventure and unlimited opportunity.
He said the Air Force taught him tolerance. He believed even during the worst of times, it would get better and it molded you into a person who is resourceful. He never ever heard anyone in the Air Force say “it’s not my job”. Rick expressed, “We were a team in the Air Force. It was my responsibility to identify problems and not just walk away. I think veterans stand in much higher esteem.”
After Rick retired as a Master Sargent E-7 from the Air Force he was hired as a production supervisor, which did overhauls on KC135’s and C130 cargo planes for all the services. He worked for this company for ten years and then started as an interior engineer for Continental Airlines. He then went on to be the creator and manager of The Donut Factory in Columbus, MS. This position inspired him to get up at 1:00 in the morning and make donuts for three years.
After Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Rick being a single father to two kids, decided to move to Ocean Springs, Mississippi to buy, restore, and re-sell houses. He did this for eight years. He found out about the Armed Forces Retirement Home through a friend while it was still under construction. He put in an application and moved in 2 years after it re-opened.
He likes to work in the wood shop at AFRH and just restored an old fashioned baby highchair. Because Rick is mechanically inclined he decided to work in the bike shop in 2013, where he works five days a week. AFRH offers around 20 trikes for residents to use. Resident can use the bikes, which are located in the east part of the parking garage near the front entrance. There are about 50 Residents that ride the bikes regularly. Besides inspecting, cleaning, lubricating, repairing, and keeping them safe, Rick also puts reflectors and horns on the bicycles. He also started repainting the bikes, yellow, blue, black, and red. The bikes are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
AFRH has taken very good care of him by keeping him safe, healthy, and energized by allowing him to have the opportunity to be involved in so many activities. Rick would like to start painting in the art room if he could only find the time. “I marvel at the creativity of the residents that live here. I was so proud to see their art work hung up at Keesler Hospital”, Rick declared.
When Rick moved into AFRH-G his sponsor was Bill Allen. Bill set the stage of how to be a good resident and take advantage of the opportunities here. Bill Allen’s advice to Rick was, “You can finish your meal and go sit in your room on a cardboard chair or you can stay active, the choice is yours.” So Rick started off volunteering to sponsor new Residents. He has sponsored in over 30 new Residents and helped them with every aspect of their move. “The most rewarding thing about being a sponsor is that when the new resident checks in, their transition is smooth, almost flawless, but most importantly they have the best information possible” Rick revealed.
Rick said his favorite things about AFRH are the happy people and the chili bean soup that is served in the Dining Hall. He said, “AFRH has the best employees I’ve ever seen anywhere. The facility is marvelous and the amenities are great. I’m living in paradise. I stand on my balcony and overlook the Gulf of Mexico.”
He thinks it is important for the residents to stay active and get out and ride a bike. “Just do it! You’re never too old; it’s never too hot, or too cold. It’s a great form of staying in shape and enjoying the 47 acres on this safe property.” Rick also performs repairs on personal bikes owned by the residents, and also works on walkers. Rick added that his focus in life is performing random acts of kindness and doing for others. “Take the high road and be positive. Dance in the rain. Be all you can be. You go around once in life and if it’s worth doing, then do it right.”