It was in 1963 that Dick Rademacher first heard about the Big Brothers program in Minnesota. Dick was working in the food brokerage business, focusing primarily on sugar. One of his colleagues, Fred, was a Big Brother, and one day Fred brought his Little Brother to work. Dick spent some time with the match and was inspired by their friendship. He decided shortly after this experience to sign up and become a mentor himself. Dick already led a busy life with his wife Nancy and their baby daughter Janie, and two more children were soon to arrive, but Dick wanted to give back and offer a child in the community opportunities he wouldn’t otherwise have. And so, Dick was matched with Ron, an 11 year old boy living in the same community, being raised by a single mother. Little did the two know that this first meeting 53 years ago would evolve into a lifelong friendship.
Dick’s family’s cabin on Lake Minnetonka is where many special memories reside for both Ron and Dick. The two would spend lazy afternoons together fishing and hiking, camping and swimming. When Ron played in a peewee baseball league, Dick always made time in his schedule to attend games and help Ron practice his catching skills. The two also had a tradition of attending the Big Brothers Banquet in Minneapolis, and Ron still remembers getting to meet Vikings greats Carl Eller and Alan Page. Ron referred to Dick as a “…great guy to talk to when you’re a kid. He’d always try and head you down the right path.”
After Ron graduated high school, they continued to stay in touch. Ron got married (with Dick in attendance), had two beautiful daughters (Dick and his wife Nancy attended both girls’ baptisms), and bought their first home in Mound, near Dick’s home. The two continued to see one another on a regular basis and would go on boat rides between each other’s houses. Later on, Ron and his family picked up and moved to Texas, for a job in the food business, but the two always kept in touch with Christmas cards and the occasional phone call to check in on one another.
It was just recently that the two reconnected in person under unfortunate circumstances. Ron’s sister passed on and Dick had read about it while scrolling through Facebook one day. Compelled to see Ron again, Dick attended the funeral and that very weekend, Dick and Nancy had Ron and his family up for dinner. It was like no time had passed at all and they conversed just like old friends. That weekend, Ron made it clear to Dick and his family that, “He [Dick] made the biggest difference in my life.”
We here at BBBS want to congratulate Dick for his 53+ years of unwavering support and dedication to his Little Brother Ron. Thank you, Dick, for making such a BIG difference.
Looking to become a mentor? Join us for one of our upcoming Info Sessions at Big Brothers Big Sisters Offices. Click here for a schedule.