Shortly after joining the society, Rich became Membership Secretary. He created a database of members. He installed computers at the Cultural Center and instituted networking, dragging us into the 21st Century.
|Rich with his wife Michelle|
Rich gave us the ability to conduct our meetings via teleconferencing. This was not, as skeptics might suspect, just because he had to drive the 8-hour round- trip from Harrisburg to attend those meetings. Orbecause in those days board meetings would last for 4-5 hours. He did it because he has engineering in his blood. Rich is a hands-on leader.
As Chief Information Officer, naturally his improvements facilitated communications between the chapters and the National. For the first time the chapters are able to distribute news of their events to the whole membership.
As Chief Financial Officer he has streamlined our bookkeeping and brought it up to date. Our records and, consequently, our activities have a new transparency.
Currently Rich is also Chairman of the Cultural Center. In 2013 he installed new windows in the basement. He then made our much-discussed handicap ramp a reality. Presently he is supervising creation of a handicapped restroom. Its completion will permit us once again to host events.
|Front left to right: Hannah, Ricky, Kaylee|
Back left to right: Andre, Emilie, and Bohdana
A two-time graduate of Penn State, Rich holds a bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering and a master’s in Finance. As we have seen, his talents in these fields have served the C-RS well. Taking a lesson from his dad, Rich has the ability to speak with anyone. He is able to maintain good relations with our members despite the intensity with which some issues are debated.
Rich and his wife Michelle are the proud parents of five, plus a Ukrainian student, Bohdana, who is a cousin’s daughter. Born in Pottsville, PA, Rich discovered that he is 100% Rusyn. This took an epiphany.
|Rich's Dad John Laychock|
Though his mother was Byzantine Catholic, his father’s church was founded by Lemkos, eventually being absorbed into the Ukrainian Catholic Church. This was even though, as his grandmother used to say, there was only one Ukrainian family belonging to their church. They followed Rusyn customs, but thought they were Ukrainian.
Rich was in his 30s when he was given a copy of the very first printing of The New Rusyn Times. He contacted Rich Custer, then went on the second C-RS Heritage Tour. After such total immersion it became clear to Rich that he has been, is, and will be a Rusyn.