A Richardson Way of Life
By: Mary Madison Lyons
L.R. Richardson was born in rural Kentucky during The Great Depression. The struggles he faced having to live in those times with seven siblings made him the savvy businessman he is today.
I visited Mr. Richardson at his home overlooking rolling acres speckled with fat cattle. He describes himself as a simple kind of man. Hard work is something he is accustomed to. Being eighty-three years old with stomach cancer, he still checks his cattle and helps feed every day except Sunday.
When asked about his cattle trading business, he said with a smile, “I had the time of my life. I’m proud to say I’ve never cheated anyone, and people at stockyards across Tennessee and Kentucky had a trust in me.”
Wanting to know more about the business I was still nebulous about, Mr. Richardson explained to me that he basically bought all sorts of livestock, fattened them, and sold them back for profit. Sometimes people who did not know what a “good cow” looked like would pay him to pick some out for them to purchase at stockyards.
I spoke with Neal Richardson, L.R.’s son and business partner in later years. I asked what it was like to be raised by a man who travelled extensively.
Neal said his father was away quite often, but he was the best anyone could ask for. He always knew he only went away to be a good provider for the family. Neal and his sister grew up knowing the value of honest work.
Neal went on to praise his father’s skills as a livestock dealer. He remembers going on work trips with L.R. when he was a young boy. He witnessed how his father interacted with customers and made smart decisions in every deal. This is the kind of action that led Neal and his son to be dealers as well.
Robert, L.R.’s grandson, had a lot to say about his grandfather when I spoke with him on the matter.
“Pa’s the kind of person to downplay the kind of man he is,” stated Robert. His grandfather is too humble to really tell people all the wonderful things he has accomplished throughout the years.
He went on to say that he saw his grandfather be charitable in his business on many occasions.
One story Robert told stood out. “Pa would give little kids a calf for free when they came with their parents.”
Robert believes that his grandpa has a soft spot for a child with big dreams because his grandfather was once one of those kids. He wants to get them started off with a little help since he had to learn on his own.
Watching L.R. do nice things just because he can makes Robert want to give back as well.
Throughout L.R. Richardson’s life he has been a successful son, husband, father, and businessman. His actions have had an impact on everyone he has interacted with, whether at a church or stockyard. In Monroe County and surrounding areas he is highly respected and his
opinion on cattle will be appreciated for as long as he lives. For a man like L.R. who has had so much success, he still prefers the only kind of life he has ever known. As he likes to say, “When you appreciate what you have it’s hard to go wrong.”
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