Grabbing Coffee with Randy

Published by Brooke Lange 3 weeks ago on Thu, Feb 8, 2024 3:13 PM
During Randy's shifts, he makes it his mission to reach out to students and buy them a coffee.
During Randy's shifts, he makes it his mission to reach out to students and buy them a coffee.

When I sat down to interview Randy Mabry, one of Concordia’s security officers, he took a bit of a circuitous path to get to me. He moseyed around to talk to a few students, we chatted about the cold weather, and just as we were about to start the interview, he asked me if I wanted a coffee, and abruptly got up to get me some.  

This is not uncommon for Randy; he famously has a stash of snacks he hands out to students walking around campus, if kids are close to a vending machine, he’ll buy them food, if they look like they need coffee, he’ll buy them a coffee. What is not common knowledge, is how such a cherished individual arrived at Concordia in the first place.  

Randy’s path in life was as circuitous as his path to me, and as deeply imbued with meaning as he felt getting me a hot chocolate was. Randy is a testament to the fact that life is chiefly about how you look at it.  

Growing up, Randy had run the whole gamut of Concordia’s. He had gone to high school at St. Paul Lutheran High School in Concordia, Missouri, he went to University of Memphis for a year, and he went back to Concordia, Missouri for his second year of college. After that, he went to Concordia in Fort Wayne his third year, and then he finished up his college career at Concordia University, Nebraska. “I wish I had been more involved when I was here, but I knew that it was a great place when I went here. I knew coming back would be a sort of homecoming for me.” 

Afterwards, he went to Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis and was a pastor for twenty years. Eventually, he decided to leave the parish. 

Soon, he started talking to a girl in an online Bible study in Colorado, and she asked him to come visit him. “There was quite an age gap between us, so we were not initally on each other's radars, but we just got to be incredible friends. And then out of the blue, I fell in love with her.” Afterwards, they got married and lived in Colorado for some time after that. Soon, they found that they might want to move out. Randy first thought he was going to move to Idaho, but through several events, he discovered that wasn’t an option.  

He teared up as he told me this story. “I was driving from Colorado to Idaho, and if you know that drive, you know there’s only about one stop between the two places. For the rest, there’s no civilization. As I was driving, I blew the axle on the trailer I was taking with me, but I broke down literally right underneath a billboard advertising for an RV repair service, near Billings, Montana. Billings is the one point of civilization on that drive. I could have broke down anywhere but I broke down there.”  

When he returned home, Randy and his family were about to go for a walk and were standing on the porch, a tire blew out on his car. He realized, at that point, that he was not supposed to go to Idaho. “This was the first time I really recognized God’s hand in my life.” 

Randy and his family decided to stay in Colorado for a few years until he got a job with the railroad in Lincoln, Nebraska. After that point, Randy found a position selling insurance in Friend, Nebraska. “I was trying to come back to Seward, because I knew it would be a good place to raise a family.” He started by selling insurance, which is something he told me while chuckling, “I’m terrible at selling things unless I believe in the product. That’s why I loved being a pastor. I was a salesman for the best product there is!” 

After that, Randy got a job with buildings and grounds at Concordia, and soon after that, a position for security officer opened up. He has been working this job for the past four years. This job is deeply imbued with meaning. 

“My favorite part is to be among the students. Almost every shift, there’s always something that involves me pouring out my heart to give something to a student. I would say that being a pastor was my favorite thing, but this is a close second.” 

Building relationships is a key motivation in Randy’s security job. “When I went to school, the teachers were deeply involved in our lives. There was a time when I went to school and I was just wearing an undershirt and one of my professors called me out and said ‘Mabry, I won’t have you wearing underwear in my class.’ After that, I never wore just an undershirt again. I liked that he cared enough to be able to tell me that, and I want to be able to care about kids like they did back then.” 

Randy often shows he cares in a relatively simple way. “If someone is sitting alone, I make sure to go up and talk to them and ask if they want a snack or a coffee or anything. If you can do one small thing to make someone’s life a little bit better, why wouldn’t you do it, ya know?” 

I asked Randy for some examples of stories with students, but he courteously declined, wanting to protect the privacy of the students. But did I really need examples if Randy was sitting right in front of me? His presence that he described to me was just as real as the one he presented to me at the interview. Real, and personal, and desiring to serve. I think we could all do what we can to be a little more like Randy. 

Randy is married to Lesa, who works as an Administrative Assistant at Trinity Academy at Concordia. He has two kids, Noah (24) and Sarah (22). In his free time, Randy likes to tinker with things, go to Saltdogs games, and spend time with his family.  

Are you interested in learning more about student life at Concordia? Find more here.