In Memory

Ricky Hatfield VIEW PROFILE

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05/16/24 11:02 AM #1    

Gene Richardson

I got to know Ricky by playing football and running track with him. He was quite an athlete, a good person and a good friend. He qualified at the Regional Track Meet our senior year to go to the state meet in 2 events-the 400 meters and the mile relay - and he placed in the 400. He was our lead off man on the relay who always gave us a lead. We didn’t win that relay, but Ricky did his part by giving us a lead. I got to know him more personally at a Fellowship of Athletes Conference in Colorado in June 1968 and still remember his smile and good nature. He had the unique ability to be friends with everyone. I miss you, Ricky, and wish to this day that we could have won that relay, you did your part. Rest in peace, good friend, you deserve it. Now two of this group are celebrating in heaven. (John David and Ricky) Ricky, tell Billy Smith that Larry Clinton and I will be there someday and we will win that mile relay race! 

This is a photo of the trip I took with Ricky to the FCA conference in Colorado in 1968. We stopped along the way to take a picture. In the picture from left to right are Gene, John David, Ricky with his sunglasses, and Dave Elmer.

05/21/24 02:20 PM #2    

Joe Harris

My apologies for taking so long to post this. When I learned of Ricky’s passing, I was stunned. We had not been in touch in quite some time, so I was not aware of his condition. It has taken a while to process my feelings and write about our relationship. My first thought was, “yet another friend is gone, and I didn’t get to say goodbye.” A selfish thought, but then I wondered about his family and friends and how awful this is for them.

The loss of a friend is a profound and deeply personal experience. Everyone deals with it differently. The news hit me hard. My feelings have ranged from shock to sadness, through memories and moments shared, recollections of the bond we once had, love and sorrow. As with so many relationships Rick and I went our separate ways after high school. We tried to stay connected but over time our lives got busy with family and work and all the other stuff and extended periods would go by without contact, so our once close relationship faded to cherished memories.

As boys we got to know one another during our elementary school years. Ricky was charismatic. He was always the leader of the group, and that group was always having fun. All the guys wanted to be a part of it. It was in Junior High that we really got to know one another and as we moved into High School, through sports and classes and hanging out together, our friendship grew. I wished we had all those hours spent in one another’s cars, driving around town with our buddies, to spend together again. Those were some of the best days of my life. During that time, I learned a lot from Ricky. Since I had no older brother, but he did and older cousins too, he knew things that I did not. He was always willing to share his knowledge of the world (what teenagers should think and how we should act) with his naive friend. Since in my mind Biff and Ronnie were the epitome of cool, I looked to Rick to help me emulate them, and he did. I think he got a kick out of it. And that is how I will remember him, as someone who was compassionate towards a dork such as me. He made me feel special, so I wanted to hang out with him and do my best to be as good a person as he was.

One valuable lesson I learned from Ricky was not to get out of the car on the same side as the guy who is going to punch you. One day we when we were riding around town in his car – probably with JD Ferguson and Steve Rankin, we were often together - I was sitting in the seat behind Ricky. I said something that set him off and he was really mad. He pulled the car over, jumped out and said “Harris, I’m going to whip your ______”! The car was a two door, so I had to climb out by folding the front seat over and wiggle myself across the back seat to stand up. Before I could get my feet under me, he shoved me hard, and I fell back into the car with my butt wedged between the front and back seats. Before I knew what was happening, he was pulling me out of the car and hugging me – he cooled off quickly. He said, “you d__ a___, don’t you know when you are going to fight, you never get out of the car on the same side as the guy who is going to punch you.” I don’t know how he knew this bit of wisdom. Thankfully, I have never had the occasion to use this well learned lesson, but one never knows when it might come in handy.

And so, we come to why his passing hurts so much. I believe it is because he has gone without my telling him how much his friendship meant to me. I never told him that I loved him. One of the great regrets of this life, no matter how well lived, is not telling those we love how we care about them. We are not promised tomorrow which leaves only today to do that which is so important.

05/21/24 02:34 PM #3    

Joe Harris

Steve Rankin and Ricky Harfield at my parent's kitchen table, Christmas break 1971.

05/21/24 02:35 PM #4    

Joe Harris

05/21/24 02:37 PM #5    

Joe Harris

The old gang - Rankin, Hatfield, Harris and Ferguson - Class reunion 2010

05/21/24 05:28 PM #6    

Judy Norman (Fikes)

Thanks to both Gene & Joe for your tributes!!

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