Richard Kingsbury came from generations of Vermont farmers. Richard came to the Puget Sound area in the 1970s. He was in the Navy, stationed in Bremerton and used to come over to Seattle to look around. After his discharge in 1975, he traveled all over the country but came back here to live. “I figured I would trade cold snowy winters for rainy ones.” He worked 17 years for The Seattle Times, doing packaging and assembly and maintenance on the printing presses. “Very dirty job, it was. I’d get covered with ink and paper dust.” Then he was laid off. He found himself on the streets when his unemployment ran out. He decided to give Real Change a try. He sold papers in Capitol Hill.“ I know the people who work here [at Capitol Hill QFC] and some of the managers and neighborhood people. This past Sunday [Easter], I got a little package that the
neighborhood put together for me, a card thanking me, with gift certificates and 40 bucks in cash.” Richard stands at his location seven days a week. Selling Real Change takes a lot of patience. “There are times when I can stand here two, three, four hours without selling one paper. There often isn’t much [pedestrian] traffic.” When Richard isn’t selling papers, he liked to listen to the radio, especially late night talk shows, such as Coast to Coast, which deals with politics and world history. “Some people would call them conspiracy theorists, but I find it difficult to believe that they’re just making this stuff up. They’ve got to be getting it from somewhere.” He also likes to read about English history, particularly about the Plantagenet dynasty (1154-1485), including Edward I, II, and III and Richard the Lionhearted. And he was fascinated by Oliver Cromwell and the English Civil War in the 1600s. At night, Richard stayed in a shelter.“It’s a depressing scene. It’s a place to sleep, that’s all.” He dreams of owning a place of his
own. He can list all the locations where he wouldn’t mind owning a house —“northern California, western Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, upstate New York, northern Wisconsin, Montana” — somewhere in the country or at least on the edge of a city, though he wouldn’t like the winters in most of those states. “Maybe [I’d] own two places.” Then he could live somewhere warm when winter came. 

Since this bio was written and the painting was created, Richard Kingsbury passed away. Real Change was told of his death by one of his customers. 

About the Artist

Maggie Huft is a skilled illustrator and graphic artist who lives in Washington. She uses pencil or charcoal, pen and ink, brush and ink, colored pencil, watercolor, and airbrush. She’s a graduate of Bowling Green State University in Ohio.