Aon Center doorperson Darryl Richardson began perfecting the skills of his trade in the mid-1980s, when he accepted a job providing security for a summer program at Chicago’s Tilden High School. “After that I got hired at Zayre’s Department Store as a security doorman,” he said. “That really started my career.”
Working with plainclothes detectives to prevent theft was much more appealing than the classes he had been taking at Columbia College, so he stayed with it. It was an exciting role that allowed him to help young people from the neighborhood.
“You get kids and teens coming in and you kind of lecture them on what’s right and wrong,” he said. “That helped the young people get their life on the path and also helped me know that I was doing something good for the community.”
Richardson was raised near Comiskey Park, former home of the Chicago White Sox, and graduated from Wendell Phillips High School. He contributes his success in part to his mother, a nurse’s assistant, and his father, a Yellow Cab driver.
“They’ve been in my life and doing what’s right as far as being parents,” he said.
After spending several years in security, Darryl moved into the hospitality industry and became a supervisor at the Chicago Hilton on Michigan Avenue. Besides overseeing staff responsible for three entire floors, he got to meet people such as Gov. James R. Thompson and rhythm and blues legend Chaka Khan, who stayed at the hotel during his time there.
“Everything was good,” he said. “The hotel atmosphere is exciting.”
But a historical event motivated him to return to his original calling.
“The attacks of 9/11 inspired me to contribute to securing our country,” he said. “To have that little all-American feeling that I’m doing my part.”
Since then, Richardson has worked security throughout downtown Chicago. He has been with the Aon Center since 2013.
“The people are awesome,” he said. “I really enjoy what I do.”
In addition to providing customer service, surveillance and reporting, the job has required him to use life safety skills.
“About two years ago, a young lady came into our lobby area and asked if we knew CPR,” he said. “I made a call on my two-way radio to let our team know we had an emergency and went to assist and started performing CPR.”
The person left the building safely with paramedics, and Richardson credits the “great management team” for preventing the tragedy.
“I was trained by the best,” he said.
When he’s not saving lives at work, Richardson enjoys watching 70's vintage private detective movies and shows like Shaft, Mannix, Cannon, and Barnaby Jones, and checking in with his mom, daughter and two granddaughters on social media apps to maintain a safe social distance.