This week we want to introduce you to our dad, Richard Gieser, Dick to his friends. He is one of the most fascinating people we know. Since we told you about our mom, we want to tell you why we love him and how he has influenced us.
We often say how creative our mom was. Well, Dad is too! He may not be an artist, but he is a gifted gatherer of people.
Today we’ll tell you about just a few of the ways he models for us creating community through relationships.
Every couple of months for the past few decades, he assembles an interesting mix of 12–14 friends,
hosts a 20-minute mini-concert in his living room featuring talented musicians, and offers dinner afterwards. He has had about 150 concerts in his home.
As a lover of classical music, he has cultivated relationships with musicians from the Chicago Symphony, the Lyric Opera, the Avalon String Quartet, the Spectral String Quartet and faculty from the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music. And his dinner guests represent a variety of ages, cultural backgrounds, nationalities, and careers. During the meal he goes around the table asking his guests to share something about themselves. He loves how the evening begins with 14 strangers and ends with 14 friends who have been inspired and enlightened by one another.
He also gathers men weekly at his house for an early Sunday morning time rich in fellowship and friendship.
The diverse group meets for a workout, breakfast, a reading of the Psalms, prayer requests, and prayer. Among the nine regulars are physicians, a handyman, international graduate students, and a lawyer, and they come from Congo, Haiti, Ukraine, China, and Turkey, as well as the US. Although our 84-year-old dad can no longer run, he rides his bike while the others run—rain or shine, hot or cold. They support one another, laugh, and, at times, weep together.
A servant to the core, he practically bleeds generosity.
For the past 50 years, he has been going on annual (and sometimes biannual) medical mission trips.
He has been to 19 Third World countries to teach in hospitals and medical schools. He gathers used medical equipment to give to the doctors he trains, and on his trips to Sudan, he often brings human eye corneas from the Illinois Eye Bank to transplant into previously blind patients. When he is home, he is constantly mentoring young doctors. Recently, he has begun investing in a doctor from Congo who, as an immigrant, is starting his career again here.
One of his best friends is a man named Martin*. Their friendship began when Dad heard an announcement at church that a man needed support after being released from jail. Their 20-year friendship began when they started running together.
It was quite a sight to see them pounding the pavement: Martin is a 300-pound man, and Dad weighing in at 145 pounds soaking wet. Dad has become the father figure Martin never had. His life of caring for people has not gone unnoticed to his 12 grandchildren. Each of them have a heart for the lost, lonely or hurting.
Every day Dad comes down to the Studio to say hello and drink his morning coffee (always black). He asks about each of our kids and celebrates our business victories with us. He cares about us and is always coming up with new ideas for our business, for which we love him dearly.
But he doesn't sit long. His kinesthetic mind craves physical and relational activity. He always has someone to have lunch with, logs to chop, his swim to get in, or the latest medical journal to read. Go, go, go: Dick is determined to make his life worthy of his heavenly Father's calling.