No More “Red Light, Green Light”

Beloved security guard retires after 16 years at PVHS

McKinley Pieper, Reporter

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“Don’t sweat the small stuff. Enjoy life! Strive to enjoy every day!” campus security Richard Burton says to the students of Palos Verdes High School. 

The school’s beloved security guard will be retiring at the end of the fall semester. Students appreciate seeing Richard every morning as he directs traffic and enthusiastically greets everyone as they cross the street from the parking lot to campus.

“He brightens everyone’s day [and] is so easy to talk to. [Richard] is always in a good mood,” says senior Dani Nilsson.

Richard begins every day with joy and excitement.

 “Each day to me is like a miniature lifetime, a journey, an adventure. So, I enjoy each day. Because of varied circumstances in my life and loved ones that I’ve lost, I have learned that the only way to enjoy life and be happy is to enjoy each moment and not worry about the future,” Burton said. 

Burton attended PVHS, fought in Vietnam, had an advertising career, then worked at PVHS for the past 16 years as security. 

“I was born and raised here and went to all the PV schools. After I graduated from PV High, I joined the navy because I did not want to get drafted into the army and go to Vietnam,” Burton said. “So, what did the navy do? They sent me to Vietnam!”  

“After I got out of that, I went to Harbor and Long Beach State and got my degree there in art and advertising & marketing. Then I went into advertising as my career. I was an art director and later a creative director. I did radio and TV commercials, movie posters, and ad campaigns.”

Burton reflects, “My proudest accomplishments are raising a family and surviving the navy in Vietnam in one piece. 

Because of the war, Burton began to value life in a different way. 

 “[I] enjoy each day because so many people are worried and full of anxiety about the future because the future is unknown, and people are afraid of the unknown. I lost that fear a long time ago in Vietnam,” Burton said. 

“But then I learned through losing loved ones, and experiencing life, not to do that. It will cause you much grief and misery in life. I prefer to be happy and full of joy.”

Richard’s wife also attended Palos Verdes High School, which is where their relationship first started.  

Richard’s retirement mission statement is “No place I gotta be. No time I gotta be there.”

To kick off his retirement, Richard will sail to Mexico on his friend’s boat and will stay there for two weeks, then fly back home.

“I have perfected the art of ‘unbusiness.’ I will be idle. Idleness means the freedom to do anything. I have no plans. I’ll live day to day and go with the flow. I will enjoy life,” said Burton. 

“I am working on two books and a screenplay. One is about my adventures here. It will be kind of a silly book because if you told the truth, nobody would believe the stuff that goes on right here. The other one is about the aging baby boomer population. The other one is a story about my military career in Vietnam and the stuff that happened there. It is very therapeutic. I love to write.”

While Burton loves to write, his hobbies are inspired by the people around him. 

“Hobbies cost money. I have interests. Interests are free. I love writing. I love to read. I like movies. I love to watch people and love to talk to people. I am interested in other people and what they are doing and their stories. I find people fascinating.”

Richard will be greatly missed by the PVHS community.

 “I am going to miss his early morning comedy. He is hilarious. I love his dad jokes. He amps me up in the morning,” said Nilsson. 

Psychology teacher Bryce Stoddart is going to miss his kind acts of service. 

“He’ll put newspaper articles that he thinks are relevant to the class you are teaching in your mailbox. He’ll come by with some cartoons to brighten your day and put a smile on your face,” Stoddart said. 

“I see him interacting with the kids [and] checking in with them. In terms of PV High culture, he has made it a better place just because of who he is.”

Richard’s advice for the students who will miss him dearly is, “You want to be around someone who is upbeat and positive. Circumstances may be crappy but you gotta overcome. Don’t let that dictate your joy and happiness. Strive to have fun and make other people happy.”

The hallways will be a little emptier without this PV High icon driving around on his golf cart.

“I’ve loved being here for 16 years, I’ve had a blast, I love you guys,” Burton said.

 “But it’s time to move on.”