Although the title of this life history is The Blessed Life of an Ordinary Man: The Autobiography of Larry Richman, I do not want people to think that I believe I am anything extraordinary. My life is blessed, remarkable, and even extraordinary in some ways—not because of what I’ve done but because of the remarkable things the Lord has done in my life.
I’ve always recognized the need to keep a journal, even though there were years in my life with very few journal entries. Spencer W. Kimball once said, “Those who keep a book of remembrance are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives. Journals are a way of counting our blessings and of leaving an inventory of these blessings for our posterity.” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 349.) (“Listen to the Prophets,” Ensign, May 1978)
Journaling helps us understand life. Re-reading journal entries and compiling them into a life history gives us perspective. We never really know where we are going until we look back. Journaling and reflecting on life can help us be more grateful for what the Lord does in our lives. I also feel that producing this life history is a way of giving an accounting of the blessings God has given me.
I resonate with this quote: “Though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor what I hope to be, I can truly say, I am not what I once was.” ― John Newton (the man who wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace”)
When I was a child, our family had the tradition that each new year for family home evening, each person would write down what happened that year—where we went on vacation, what happened at school or work, and so forth. I wish I would have kept up that tradition with my own family. It was a valuable source of information to me to compile my dad’s history and my own history.
“One day, you will tell your story of how you overcame what you went through, and it will be someone else’s survival guide.” ― Anonymous
President Spencer W. Kimball offered this challenge: “Get a notebook…a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity. Begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies.” (“The Angels May Quote from It,” New Era, Oct 1975)
I found it difficult to organize my life history. I tried to make it chronological, but then it seemed to be a random travelogue that was not very interesting. So, I’ve organized it topically, which means that things will jump around a bit chronologically, but the topics allowed me to step back a bit and gain some perspective.
In this document, I reference things I wrote in my journals. I have condensed those journals into this document and have discarded them.
For Christmas 2022, I gave my immediate family a printed copy of this autobiography as a bound book. I wanted them to know more about my college days, youth, and childhood. I also hadn’t talked with them very much about work because much of the work I did was confidential while I was doing it. Giving them a printed book was a way of opening my life to them. My life is now an open book—literally.
For Christmas, I also created an Amazon Photos site to share all the photos I had. Over the past several years, I had digitized all my paper photos, slides, and films. I identified the people in each photo and organized them into 85 albums.
I think these two gifts were meaningful to my family. Jason sent me this email: “It’s so impressive to me the time you’ve dedicated to doing this. It’s a priceless gift to have this history and source of great memories. Thanks so much for doing it. You’re amazing!”
I also sent an email to my extended family and a few close friends to tell them about my life history online, the Amazon Photos albums, and the RichmanFamily.org website with photos and stories about my ancestors and family.
I grew up in Utah and Idaho. I am the second of four children of Lynn Thomas Richman and Kathryn Joyce Seely. My mother passed away of kidney failure when I was 16 years old. My father later married Mary Elizabeth Smith, who had two children from a previous marriage. Together, they had five more children (4+2+5=11). My family has been active in the Church ever since I was born.
My mission to Guatemala determined my career. I spent most of my mission among the Cakchiquel Indians in central Guatemala. A linguist from BYU spent a few weeks in Guatemala to teach a dozen missionaries same basics of the Cakchiquel language, then left us on our own to learn the language. A few of us excelled, and by the end of my mission, the Church asked three of us to translate the missionary discussions.
I returned to BYU after my mission and worked part-time for the Church translation division and changed my major from business to Spanish and linguistics. I spent the next few summers in Guatemala either working for the Church translating the Book of Mormon, compiling a Cakchiquel-Spanish-English dictionary, or doing linguistic studies just for the fun of it. After I received my bachelor’s degree, I stayed in Provo and earned a master’s degree in instructional science. My intent was to build a business by developing language learning systems. But the Church offered me a full-time job and I spent the rest of my career involved with translations and Church publications.
For a few years, I supervised translators in Latin America and Africa. I later project managed non-English publications, assigning them for translation and coordinating the steps of translation, typesetting, graphic design, printing, and distribution. I helped develop computer tracking systems to manage these stages of production. I helped realign production, printing, and distribution to save millions of dollars in printing and distribution costs. For several years, I traveled three or four weeks a year to Church printing and distribution centers.
I later worked with the Relief Society, Primary, Sunday School, Young Men, and Young Women General Presidencies to develop Church programs, leader training, and other resources. I helped set up Church efforts on the internet and in social media and for five years was the director of LDS.org.
My work responsibilities included developing and implementing Church resources and making sure they are translated and available worldwide. Other assignments included both project management and product management for resources such as leader training, Sunday programs, curriculum for the home and church, scriptures, magazines, and other materials used in the home. For most of my career, I also coordinated the official letters and notices sent from headquarters to stake and ward leaders. My final position was the director of communications and messaging, helping improve messaging to members and leaders.
I have had broad experience in my 45-year professional career, including translation, publishing, project management, product management, marketing, communications, and social media. But at heart, I consider myself a writer. I’ve authored over a dozen books and thousands of articles.
My crowning achievement was marrying the most perfect match for me, Teri Jackman, and raising four wonderful children. They are warm, loving individuals and parents with strong testimonies of what matters most in life.