Jay Richards ~ MTTA Hall of Fame 2010
This year we have a tower who was born in 1947. He was a joy to his parents who never knew what he would do next. Like riding his tricycle to his dad's gas station at the age of three without his mom knowing. I wonder how far that was. Then there is the day he took the car out of gear, tried to drive it across the street and hit a parked truck. The only damage was a bent fender to the car. Needless to say, his dad learned a lesson that day. He did not leave the keys in the car after that. When this tower was in grade school, he thought he was a full-fledged mechanic. He always like to take trucks and cars apart. But he didn't always get them put back together. He must have had a patient father who was willing to help get them back together. Maybe this award should be going to his father.
At the age of 15 he started working for a towing company. He loved his work so much that he didn't want to go home or to church on Sundays anymore for fear that he would miss out on a wrecker call. That didn't make his mom and dad too happy. But it sounds like he has had a good work ethic from his childhood forward. By now you'll probably have guessed that Jay Richards is this year's Hall of Fame inductee.
So, while working for the wrecker company, Jay met his wife, Joyce, and they were married in 1971. Later that year, while working a wreck up in Elk Park, he was electrocuted by a downed power line which blew the bottoms of his feet out. Joe Russell, the highway patrolman on the scene, could see that the ambulance was taking too long to get there. Jay was not breathing so the patrolman put him in the back seat of his car and rushed him to the emergency room. When Jay came to, he told his wife to go get his hunting license because he was going hunting. He managed to survive the electrocution even though his doctors did not believe he would.
In 1972, Jay and Joyce had a son, John. Wasn't long and he was going on calls with his dad. Then giving him competition picking up wrecks. He still works with his dad today.
In 1980, Johnny Stephens of Red Wrecker turned his business over to Jay and Joyce. They started with two small wreckers and one medium-duty wrecker and have built the business up to what it is today. Red Wrecker is the oldest wrecker service in Butte. It is now a three-generation business with Jay, John, and John's son Cody who is now working in the yard.
One of Jay's most memorable and unusual calls was a horse that was stuck in a septic tank. The horse belonged to a six-year-old girl who rode the horse for rodeo pageants. With Jay's help, they were able to save the horse.
Jay never turns down a challenge no matter what. Somebody will tell him he won't be able to get a vehicle out and chances are that he will prove them wrong.
Jay is a man who is willing to help anyone. He helps put on training seminars for the local emergency service crews as well as helping put on tow truck seminars. Jay also helps out many of the other wrecker services whenever he is needed.
Jay is a board member of the Montana Tow Truck Association, president of Butte-Silver Bow Towing Association, and a member of the Towing & Recovery Association of America. Jay has developed an excellent working relationship with the Montana Highway Patrol, local ambulance services, local fire department, and Butte-Silver Bow law enforcement. In 2009 Jay received the honor of the ACE Award at the Baltimore Tow Show.