Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Yesterday morning my friend of the past 15 years or so, Rockland ("Rock") Richards passed away.  He battled heart disease, obesity and the effects of a mighty rough and dangerous life in his early days. 

When he found himself at CitySquare (back then Central Dallas Ministries), he stuck with us until his untimely departure yesterday.  I will miss him.

The Central Dallas Church and CitySquare are seeking the funds necessary to provide a funeral and burial for our friend.  He was a very poor man materially.  But what wealth of heart and soul he possessed. 

Almost three years ago to the day, I posted what follows about my good friend and partner in community building.  I post it again today in his memory and with a hole somewhere inside as I think about not being able to talk to him again, at least for a while.  As you'll read, he didn't let me get away with much, especially when it came to taking time for the truly important.  I don't think I learned that lesson as well as he would have liked, and I know I haven't mastered it as well as he. 

Thanks for everything, Rock. 

Rockland is my friend.

I've known Rock for well over a decade. His life story is amazing, hilarious and, at points, frightening.

Rock is a reformed drug dealer, thanks to his focus on Jesus and family.

Back in the day, Rock was earning between $50,000 and $75,000 a month selling crack and other illegal substances. He drove great cars, wore great clothes and moved among the big shots inside the Dallas drug scene.

He knew lots of rich, white college kids.

The brother has been shot several times. He can lift his shirt and show you his scars.

One evening he found himself trapped in a Cadillac and caught in a crossfire resulting from a drug deal gone bad. It is a miracle he got out alive. The story is scary beyond belief, but hearing him tell it is so funny.

Then, he got grand kids.

Completely ruined his old life.

He told me that when these babies came along, he knew he had to change his ways. And, he did.

These days Rock is an active member of the Central Dallas Church.

Rock's health is not good. A couple of weeks ago, he was taken to the hospital in critical condition. He was experiencing life-threatening complications resulting from a medication he was taking for his heart condition. He spent several days in ICU.

I made a real bad mistake. I didn't go visit him while he was in such bad shape.

I had my reasons--most relating to my dad's condition--but, none really justify my failure.

When Rock got out, he called me.

"Larry, how's your dad?" he asked when I answered the phone.

I told him and offered my lame excuses for not coming to see him.

"You should have come by, Larry," Rock said. "I love you, Larry. You need to remember that! Stop and smell the roses, man. Check in on a brother when you can," he concluded.

I called him yesterday to tell him about my dad's passing. He and dad were friends too.

I'll work harder at staying in touch.
I love him too.
[Originally posted on Thursday, December 20, 2007] 

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