RICHMOND, Indiana - Liberty's Richard Lipscomb is a great-grandfather and a blood donor who has no use for Father Time. In fact he thumbed his nose at the notion of ageing by making his milestone 246th lifetime blood donation Wednesday, March 19 at the Richmond Community Blood Center, just a couple of weeks shy of his 83rd birthday.
Waiting for Richard at the Richmond CBC was a cake, balloons and the freshly engraved name plate "Richard Lipscomb Screening Booth" mounted on the door of the room he always uses for pre-donation interviewing and testing.
"It's my room!" he announced as he entered. "Don't let anybody else use this now!" His mood was celebratory, but he was also nervous. "He had pneumonia at the end of November," said Phyllis Lipscomb, his wife of 63 years. "It took his iron down and he had to wait until now to donate. He's anxious to give, if his iron is OK. He's missed two donations and he's nervous. It shakes him up if he doesn't get a chance to do it."
There was a spring in his step when he emerged from screening with the "thumbs up" that he was cleared to donate. As he made his donation CBC's Melinda Frech complimented him on the rich, fuchsia-colored shirt he wore (picked out by Phyllis) and a donor compared it to her sparkly fuchsia scarf. "My eyes are sparkly because I'm able to donate," he said. "It bothers me when I can't donate."
Richard was determined to get back on track with a routine that has resulted in nearly 31 gallons donated. "I've been low on iron," he said. "I've been taking pills (vitamins) and eating spinach - and I don't even like spinach. The best vitamins for iron are the ones the kids eat - Flintstones!"
That's not the only way he turns back the hands of time. His home near Brookville Lake features a giant garage for his pontoon boat he built with the help of his family. He uses a walk-behind mower - not a riding mower. He spent the winter shoveling - not snow blowing - his 200-foot driveway. And he makes and sells custom-crafted corn hole sets, two of which he delivered to buyers at CBC on the day of his donation.
"My dad passed away not long after he retired," he said. "I don't want to pass away, not yet. I want to stay busy."
He first gave blood to help his father, and it was nearly his last donation. "I was 16 years old and I donated for my dad in Dayton at Miami Valley Hospital when he needed blood," he said. "The nurse tried to get blood out of me and was dabbing it around. I almost didn't donate again, my arm was so sore."
Instead, he became a blood donation champion. He worked 29 years for Dayton Tire where he joined a CBC Life riLeaders Team and served as co-chairman of the company blood drives. "I worked nights but I would go to all the different shifts at the plant to remind people to donate," he said.
"I enjoy donating, it makes me upset when I can't," said Richard. "I wish more people felt that way. I've encouraged a lot of people to do it."
"He continues to encourage everyone to donate," said Melinda. "It is always a pleasure to see Richard and Phyllis come in every eight weeks."
Richard and Phyllis have three children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. They lost their son Mark to complications from diabetes last year. "Yesterday he would have turned 55," they said. "He was a juvenile diabetic and we were blessed to have him as long as we did, but it is still a loss."
They cherish memories of traveling the country on camping vacations when the children were young. He knows that the road won't go on forever, that he might not reach every goal, but giving the "Gift of Life" is a way to leave a legacy. It's perhaps a way to stay forever young.
"Somebody has to donate," he said. "I'm a regular blood donor. Phyllis and I are both organ donors. We've been to around 29 or 30 states. When I pass away, if they want to take part of my body they can have it. If somebody gets one of my organs, and they go to another state I haven't been, then I'll have been there too."