Children across Cape Cod and Southeastern Massachusetts lost a great friend on March 16th when Benjamin Lee Richardson died after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Mr. Richardson was the volunteer chief technician for the Masonic Angel Foundation’s Laptops for KidZ project. Over the past five-and-a-half years, Ben personally refurbished over 1,100 laptops that were placed through schools across Southeastern Massachusetts.
With pass-along user-ship that’s common in the Laptops for KidZ program, MAF officials estimate that Ben gave the gift to technology access to well over 3,000 children.
Ben’s work with Laptops for KidZ was featured in a 2010 “Santa’s Workshop” story on CapeCodToday.com.
In preparing 1,100 laptops for placement, Richardson handled close to 1,800 machines. Laptops that did not meet the minimum standards of the program or that were beyond economical repair were parted-out as, in Ben’s words, “organ donors” for other, more viable laptops. He maintained an impressive inventory of spare parts and knew exactly where every item was when he needed replacement parts. One of the reasons why Laptops for KidZ is such a “green” program is Ben Richardson’s commitment to recycle absolutely everything he could from non-viable devices.
Ben Richardson began working with LFK when the program received a donation of over 100 machines, at which time project director Mario Meré invited Ben to join the program. Ben’s experience in manufacturing enabled him to set up simple, easy-to-follow systems for tracking dozens of in-process computers and incoming parts orders.
This volunteer’s devotion to Laptops for KidZ was so great that, a few hours after being discharged from a hospital heart procedure, he was on the phone to the Foundation office happily ordering parts and discussing placement of the next batch of laptops. For Ben, Laptops for KidZ became virtually a full-time volunteer job.
In February Ben received a harsh diagnosis of Stage IV pancreatic cancer. He spoke with me on February 25th, discussed his diagnosis and proceeded to order parts for 10 laptops he had just received. A few days later he took a sharp turn for the worse and passed away at the age of 73 on March 16th.
In keeping with the sense of urgency that Mr. Richardson brought to Laptops for KidZ, the program’s volunteers have refurbished and placed 25 laptops since Ben’s passing and have another 18 in process. Thirteen more laptop donations were in-bound Monday night. “We honor Ben’s work maintaining high standards for speed and precision that he held so dear,” reported MAF President Robert Fellows. “This program is a living testament to Ben’s organizational skills, technical proficiency and genuine love that he brought to every single laptop he prepared.”
Benjamin Lee Richardson was a member of Mount Horeb Masonic Lodge in Dennis. He leaves his wife, Donna; a sister, Sue Ann; and (from his published obituary) “many children, stepchildren and grandchildren.”
Ben also leaves over 3,000 children whose lives were made better by his gift of technology.
Messages of condolence may be sent to [email protected] or mailed to the Masonic Angel Foundation, Inc., PO Box 1389, Orleans, MA 02653.