Weekly Local Biography

 (Kev) Ric Richardson


Ric Richardson is a retired printing industry executive from Australia, who has used his time here to indulge himself in his passion for history and writing. The end result is some historical novels that are receiving some acclaim, and a man who now describes himself as being “very satisfied with my life.”

He was born in Sydney, more years ago than he really wants to think about. His father was in the paper industry, and this did later have some bearing on his career; however, his father died when Ric was ten years old, so he and his elder sister were raised by his mother.

At school Ric knew what he wanted to do. “I wanted to be the world’s greatest architect,” and so he went to Technical High School in Sydney to follow his star. He was a good student, finishing school with honours in Maths and English, and should have been set to enter university to study architecture.

Unfortunately this was right after WWII, and in Australia returning soldiers received first preference in university places. He was told he would have to wait 12 months before there would be a place available. In the interim, his mother contacted business friends of his late father who gave the young man a job in the printing industry for the 12 month wait.

He applied for architecture again and was once more told there were no more places available, after the returned soldiers had had their pick, and he would have to wait for another 12 months. This was too much for the hoped-to-be architect, and he accepted a position as the assistant to the sales manager of a large Sydney printing firm.

He did well. He worked hard, holding down that job and lecturing at night on sales and marketing at college. He was a young man with ambition, and on the move. He had to be - he had a wife and children to support.

However, he was to find that drive and ambition was not the only necessity to move upwards in that printing business. After 13 years and not getting the top job, he asked why. “Because this is a family business, and you’re not family,” was the reply. So for the second time in his life, factors out of his control looked as if they were to control his destiny.

He moved away from Sydney and spent a year building a house in suburban Brisbane, only to have one of the “family” members look him up and offer him the job as sales manager, despite not being of the blood-line. He took it and returned to Sydney.

But there was one blood line that he found he did have. Straight back to the convicts who were the first forced settlers in that great sun-burned land! While it might have been a scourge on one’s name in those days, today it is different. Blokes like Ric are ‘real’ Australian developers. Ric proudly told me that he is a past president of the First Fleet Fellowship and a past secretary of the Descendents of Convicts Association. I envied him in a way - my family had gone to Australia as government assisted migrants. How dull by comparison!

The “family” business was not to last, being bought out by a multinational group, but Ric did. He was sent around the world to get a feel for this huge conglomerate. However, huge conglomerates have their ups and downs too, and Ric was given the job of ‘rationalizing’ the Australian arm. Nice boardroom speak for being a hatchet man!

Again he was a survivor, living through cutbacks and was even able to find a corporate buyer for the group he was running in Australia. But this life of boardroom deals was starting to tell. Ric gave himself a five year plan. A simple plan to drop out of the mainstream, become a beach bum and to write. The plan was hatched when he was 55, so when he turned 60 he would be off and running into this new career.

The plan progressed, but right at the crunch time, his (second) wife said she did not want to sacrifice her career, just because Ric wanted out of his. Were more factors not under his control to shape his destiny again? Not this time. They worked out the compromise, which meant they lived apart to follow their own needs, but this led to an amicable separation and eventually (predictably) divorce.

Ric was now washed up on the surfing beaches of Queensland’s Gold Coast and met the local newspaper proprietor. This serendipitous meeting sent him to study journalism and then to become a travel writer. “I travelled for three months, wrote for three months and then wrote my own stuff (his books) for six months. I had freedom for the first time in my life.”

But even this freedom began to pall. “I was living in a clique of retirees.” Ric wanted out. He decided to move to Europe, “I even bought the tapes to learn the language.” This time it was international money market forces that made him reconsider - Europe was too expensive, and having been advised that Thailand had a cheaper cost of living, decided to try life here. “I thought I would try Chiang Mai for two years. It had no beaches, and I was sick of those, but I had no one to answer to. I was totally free.”

The two years stretched to seven and he is still here, and still protecting his freedom. “I join nothing,” he said emphatically. He is happy writing his books and is now on his fifth. “I stopped writing for 12 months, but I found I missed it, and I was becoming involved in the social scene again.” For Ric, this was tantamount to losing his freedom.

His forebears had their freedom removed and were sent to a penal colony. Ric Richardson is making damn sure he never loses his!