My friend Dickie...
I lost more than one friend this week... In fact, in the past few weeks, I have lost several friends to COVID-19. My heart is hurting and, yes, I have a little bit of guilt. Why did I make it through, but my friends did not? I know it’s all in God’s plan, but the pain and questions are still there.
When our friend Dickie Kennemore tested positive for the coronavirus, I was one of the first person’s he called... simply because I had been there and he had tons of questions. I remember, it was a Saturday and he had been to Jonesboro. I was sitting on my front porch as we discussed the symptoms and “things” to look for. My first advice was to keep a check on his oxygen level. I actually had an extra meter and I immediately asked Steve to take it to Dickie.
We talked and texted a few other times in the days to come, then I found out he had been admitted to the hospital. Once again, he texted me with questions - how long was I in ICU? We discussed the chicken salad sandwiches available at the nurses stations and we talked about God. The next to the last text I received from Dickie said, “God is good. Keep praying. His will be done. Thank you, Dear Friend for your PRAYERS.”
Although I truly believed he would beat COVID, I found a great peace in that text. I knew he would be okay, no matter what plan God had in store. He wasn’t ready to say goodbye to his family. He wanted to spend more precious hours with his wife and children. He wanted to see his grandchildren grow up. I know he fought as long and as hard as he could. Yet, he had lived a full life... a fighter... an adventurer... a hometown boy!
The first time I met Dickie was some 35 years ago. I was fresh out of college and he was getting ready to run for his first political office. I interviewed him at the old Osceola Times building. Kristy was sitting on his lap. I remember it like it was yesterday.
Over the years, we worked on numerous projects... way before I entered the political circle I knew the inside scope. Dickie always made sure I knew about upcoming industrial prospects etc. I was sworn to secrecy in exchange for an exclusive. Big announcements were almost always made on Tuesdays so my weekly paper would get the scoop. Why? Because Dickie loved his town and he always wanted it to be first in everything. Over the years, Dickie wrote numerous stories for The Times sharing his love for the town and its history. I never had a doubt, this was his place of residency. No home in Jonesboro. lol
When I decided to run for city council eight years ago, I talked it over with Dickie. He wasn’t too excited about the idea because he knew I would always ask the difficult questions. We butted heads several times over the next six years, but I always remembered he was my friend. Once we were through fighting, we would calm down, apologize, hug and get on with the business at hand. There were no secrets, no grudges, no back stabbing... That’s the kind of man and leader he was. Yes, he had a temper, but he also had a kind heart.
Throughout the years it sort of became my job to “make sure” the stage crew and musicians got everything lined out so Dickie could sing “Johnny Be Good” at the Osceola Heritage Musicfest. And, he sang year after year. Those will always be my fondest memories.
Yes, the world will remember him as being the mayor who landed the largest economic development deal in the history of Arkansas, but I will always remember the man who was not afraid to be himself on a musicfest stage on the courthouse square of his hometown - Osceola, Arkansas.
He was my friend and I will miss him. This town will miss him...