Gregory Richards created the Verta Richards Foundation for Pancreatic Research in honor of his late wife. The foundation is planning a golf outing Sept. 15, 2012. | Photo provided
I recently listened to a love story told by Gary native Gregory Richards. It all began with a pair of red pants.
Once upon a time Verta Robinson and Gregory Richards were classmates at Beckman Middle School and Roosevelt High School.
During high school Richards hung out with Robinson’s cousin. One day when Richards, then a junior, was with Robinson’s cousin outside the house, he noticed a young lady walking.
“I said, ‘Hey man, isn’t that your cousin?’ He said ‘Yeah’,” Richards recalled. Verta Robinson’s fashion ensemble that day included a pair of red pants.
Robinson and Richards dated and after graduating in 1971, Richards left for college and Robinson got a job.
In 1972, Robinson became pregnant with their son. They married two years later and over the years had two more sons.
“It wasn’t until years later when Verta confessed to ‘having an eye on me’ long before I saw her in those red pants,” Richards said with a laugh.
They raised three sons, Joree, Geoffrey and Gregory Jr. Gregory Sr. worked in the mill and Verta at the state welfare department. They eventually retired from their jobs and enjoyed life as retirees, even taking up golf.
But their love story was soon challenged when Verta was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May 2009. Known as the “silent killer” because signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer often don’t occur until the disease is advanced, Gregory said Verta had the disease two years prior to the diagnosis.
“The cancer was so advanced that when Verta went into surgery, they stopped it 12 minutes later because the cancer was everywhere,” Gregory said.
Verta received care from the University of Chicago Pancreatic Cancer Research Center. She died Sept. 7, 2010, with Gregory at her side.
“I told her it was ‘OK baby’,” he said.
Gregory started a memorial fund in Verta’s name. It is now the Verta Richards Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research. The 2012 charity golf outing for pancreatic cancer research begins at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Indian Ridge Golf Course, 6363 Grand Blvd. in Hobart.
Tee time is 9 a.m. It’s $65 per golfer or $260 for a foursome. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included.
For more information, contact Gregory Richards, 678-2348 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Rusty Lashenik, 628-3392; Indian Ridge, 942-6850; Vikki Hegan, 765-0768; or Laurie Eckerle, 682-7739. Visit the Facebook page, www.facebook.com/VertaRichardsFoundationForPancreaticCancerResearch for additional information.
The Gary Literacy Coalition and Methodist Hospitals are hosting a free Community Book Festival from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29, in the Indiana Room at the Genesis Convention Center. Call 885-2229 for more information.
There will be entertainment, door prizes, free books and local authors present.