Speaker – Rick Akins / New Mexico Boys & Girls Ranches
Posted:Â Sunday, August 25, 2013 12:00 am
By GARY HERRON
Observer staff writer
Rick Akins is what you might call an enigma.
Heâ€™s retired, but heâ€™s still working.
And heâ€™s a Chevy guy but he spent two decades working for Ford.
â€œI decided to retire, leave the car business,â€ he said last week, one day before turning 66. â€œI wanted to make a difference.â€
To achieve that, he took on a new position as the development coordinator for The Ranches, a philanthropic organization that has been helping New Mexicoâ€™s children in need since 1944.
In a nutshell, the Boys and Girls Ranches Inc. serves children from challenging backgrounds.
Akins, who served two tours in a support role in Vietnam while serving with the U.S. Army, has worked for Don Chalmers since the two were together in Tulsa.
He knew all about The Ranches from what heâ€™d seen during his 28 years as a member of Rotary, first with the Rio Rancho Rotary Club, serving as its president in 2001-02, and later with the Rio Rancho Sunrise Rotary Club; heâ€™s also been the district governor for West Texas and New Mexico. Plus, heâ€™s been on a board for The Ranches for several years.
Rotarians know Akins can jabber with the best of them, and traveling around the state, speaking to civic groups such as Rotary, Civitan and Kiwanis, heâ€™ll have that opportunity to talk about what The Ranches offers â€” all without any government help â€” and, hopefully, entice folks to open up their wallets.
â€œItâ€™ll be a fun deal,â€ Akins says of his new role. â€œWhat makes a good speaker is commanding the audience â€” and your delivery. I speak from the heart.
â€œI have no set speech,â€ he said, looking forward to being able to relate â€œsome of the personal success storiesâ€ that originated at the Boys and Girls Ranches.
Akins had a personal success story of his own with Chalmers, whom heâ€™d been encouraged to work for in his native Tulsa in 1993. At the time, he recalled, Chalmers had sold what he owned in Washington and moved to Oklahoma to own a Ford dealership; Akins had been working for a Chevy dealership at the time.
â€œWe went to the same high school,â€ he said of Chalmers, but the two didnâ€™t know each other. Chalmers encouraged Akins to work for his commercial fleet department at his new dealership, and later sent him to New Mexico to set that department up when Chalmers started a Ford dealership in Rio Rancho.
Rosamond, or Roz, his fourth wife â€” â€œI got the right one this time,â€ Akins joked â€” is on board with her hubbyâ€™s retirement and subsequent new job.
â€œRoz knows I have a passion to help kids and make a difference,â€ he said.
So does Bobby Wallace, president of New Mexico Boys and Girls Foundation.
â€œRick was on our board of directors and was very active, and he has a passion for helping kids. When the opportunity came for him to work for us, he took it,â€ Wallace said.
â€œHe is very well known in the community and he has the ability to go out and talk about what the Ranches does for kids and how people can help the Ranches (theranches.org), why we need our donors and how much we need their support,â€ he added.
Asked what he has on his â€œbucket list,â€ Akins didnâ€™t need long to think.
â€œIâ€™d like to get an antique Corvette, 1957-62,â€ he said. â€œI grew up with Chevies.â€
Heâ€™s also hoping to travel with Roz; the two visited Israel, where they were baptized in the River Jordan by their Calvary Albuquerque pastor, Skip Heitzig.
â€œThat was a great trip,â€ he said.
Someday, the two hope to visit Yellowstone National Park and Scotland, where Roz can get in touch with her ancestral roots. Akins also enjoys riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle.
â€œWe donâ€™t have a timetable,â€ Akins noted, saying he still feels like heâ€™s 50 years old, not 66. â€œI feel great.â€
The only real difference between Akinsâ€™ days with Chalmers on NM 528 and working with The Ranches in Northeast Albuquerque is the drive: â€œI cross the river and (battle) the traffic,â€ he said.