Author: Michael Shea
Ralph Wright started working at the SRC when Ronald Reagan just began the first term of his presidency. The Empire Strikes Back was the big Star Wars film du jour of the day and Disco was seemingly here forever. Any of you who have called our circulation desk has likely interacted with Mr. Ralph Wright. As of 2/29 (Hey, we scored an extra day thanks to the leap year!) Mr. Wright has retired. We did our best to keep Ralph on board, but with a lot of family obligations and some solid world travel plans, he rode off into the sunset and retired on us.
If you’ve never met Ralph, he is a physically imposing dude. I know when one of our staff, Chris Burton, spoke at Ralph’s retirement party, he said “When I first met you, I thought you were really mean”, which made me snicker, since the card I gave him started with those exact same words. I remember meeting him, seconds after seeing him yell at someone for leaving a ladder in the main aisle. “Don’t you know that’s dangerous and against fire code?” He told me on my first day (as “manager in training”) that I would have to get on people to do their jobs right, and was I ready for that? I remember thinking, ”Can I just delegate that to you? You seem to have a handle on it!”
He was definitely dedicated, loyal and hard working – a model of excellence for all of us to follow. His primary responsibility was to receive and disseminate requests, but that was not enough for Ralph. He also pulled and re-filed more records than any other staff member. Sure, Ralph could have retired when we went live with Texlinx. Hey, when it’s time for me to retire, it sure would be nice to NOT have to learn a whole new way of doing everything I did for 34 years. He took pride in learning the system and his effort and diligence made it work for our circulation services. I think one reason Ralph was able to succeed and adjust is due to his love of sports. He would not be defeated by a new system, or any change because he knows the greatest athletes adapt to new rules, new players and new tactics and the greatest of the great end up conquering all those hurdles. He was the Tim Duncan of this place.
Ralph conquered the hurdles and adapted to a new world here at the records center in his last year. I know, this sounds more like a Eulogy than anything else, but we will miss that big guy who WOULD NOT SIT STILL.
Ralph was never mean, just serious and thoughtful…reserved and dedicated. A model employee for the ages.
The circulation phone number is still 512-475-5155, and when you call you will likely be greeted by Zachary, who we think is a perfect fit, a “Ralph-in-training.”