I wasn’t the only person to ask Rick Earley on Wednesday whether he felt like he was attending his own funeral. It seemed that way at the reception honoring Rick when a slide show featuring pictures from his life was playing on a big screen with soft music in the background.
The reception overall was fun and well-planned – not overdone or drawn out, just some speakers offering praise for the retiring superintendent, some reminders of how much of an impact an educator can have on the lives of students, coworkers and a community, and a chance for his friends and colleagues to wish him well.
I barely knew Rick when I was editor here in the 1980s and early 90s, but I got to know him pretty well over the last couple of years, both from covering the school district and through Rotary, and he quickly became a favorite person. Quiet and professional, Rick also has a sense of humor that is so dry it might qualify for drought relief.
Ask Rick at any moment how he’s doing, and his response is likely to be, “Just livin’ the dream.” It made me laugh every time he said it, because it was such an obviously sarcastic response. On almost a daily basis, a school superintendent lives a lot more nightmares than dreams.
From a professional standpoint, I always appreciated his accessibility when we had a question about something going on. He always answered the phone or returned a call quickly, and never dodged a subject, offering as much information as he was legally or ethically allowed to divulge. Sometimes, he clearly wanted to say much more in defense of a decision or action, and he bit his tongue so often it probably has scar tissue.
Someone suggested on Wednesday that Rick might stay on board in some capacity for a while to oversee the completion of the new track project, and that would be a good move.
But the same individual also said that as far as other issues involving the district, no one had to worry that Rick might keep injecting himself into school business after he steps aside in a few days. I agree. He’ll wash his hands of it and leave it to his successors – an excellent example for former public officials to follow.
Good luck, Rick, and may you really have a chance now to start livin’ the dream.
What a fascinating development last week when Hillsboro city workers who belong to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) filed a petition to decertify the union. The comments of the petition leader, Kyle Clemons, seemed to fly in the face of suggestions that city employees have a poor relationship with the Hastings administration.
By the way, when the secretly-recorded tape surfaced online of the mayor’s private meeting with police officers a few months ago, it must have been a letdown to those who had been led to believe it reflected the rantings of a maniac in the throes of an attack of Tourette’s syndrome. Much ado about nothing.
By the way, Lora and I went with my daughter and son-in-law to watch Drew perform at the Go Bananas comedy club on Montgomery Road in Cincinnati a couple of Saturdays ago. The place was packed despite a cold and rainy night, and the crowd loved the show.
Now I’m not going to tell you that Drew has morphed into a G-rated comedian, but his current show is definitely mild compared to some of his older stuff available online. The bulk of Drew’s current material is farm-related, along with his take, from a comedy standpoint, of being mayor of Hillsboro – including his prepared defense of our nativity scene at the county courthouse if it’s ever challenged by the ACLU: “It’s not a nativity scene, it’s a memorial to the homeless.”
He is also not shy on stage about taking potshots at the Obama administration, even if some of the more clearly liberal audience members were slightly uncomfortable with his zinging of the president. In a world where most entertainers are liberals and take constant shots at Republicans, it’s nice to witness the tables turned.
It was impressive that most of his humor was created on the fly, based on his interaction with the crowd, certain professions represented in the audience, and his questions to those sitting stage-side (we sat safely in the back). Once in a while he seemed more focused on seriously trying to talk business owners who were present into relocating to Hillsboro than on cracking jokes.
If you just don’t like Drew either personally or as mayor, you’d find ways not to like his show, but we had a lot of fun.
To try to wash away the sin of visiting a comedy club, Lora and I went to church at Fairview on Sunday because the grandkids, great nieces and nephews were in a Christmas show there (we usually attend at Marshall).
As you all know from witnessing similar performances at your own churches, these annual performances often bring as many chuckles as any professional comedy act, especially when very young tykes are part of the cast. Sunday was no different as the kids performed a Grinch-themed program, and it was particularly fun for me, since I got to go to church and hear Boris Karloff deliver the sermon.
I got in trouble at Rotary last week - as I was leading the singing of some Christmas songs, I referred to the “holiday season,” which brought groans from Rotarians, prompting me to quickly correct my reference to the “Christmas season.” To further make amends, let’s close with what Christmas is all about, as recounted in Luke 2:8-14.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Merry Christmas to all.
Gary Abernathy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.