Wishing for more time with Ralph

Published 8:10 pm Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I saw Ralph Stacy for the last time this side of Heaven on Friday. We were in Krystal’s and he was on his way through Greenville to Beatrice, Alabama. He was dressed to the nines, as usual, suit and tie, the professional. He’d come a long way from Georgiana.

But, underneath it all, you knew Ralph was still the same old person you’d always known. He put the person in “personality.” He was outgoing and admired by many. He had friends across this state. You want proof? He said ‘hey’ to us that Friday and immediately saw another out-of-towner he knew sitting in the far corner of the restaurant.

I didn’t know Ralph closely. I knew him more on a professional level through his work with the state Chamber of Commerce. And I knew him from the time he and Mark Richie used to do the radio call-in show on Friday nights on Q-94. I was working in Troy then, and just loved to call and shoot the breeze with Mark and Ralph, talking football. I was usually on the road at night, between nowhere and Troy, just dashboard lights and dark skies, but there was Ralph’s booming voice bringing me home again.

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The Friday we saw him last, he had settled down with a tray of Krystal’s and novel. We talked for a little while and I gave him a small stack of our new Camellia Magazines to take back with him to Montgomery. He asked about the paper business, because Ralph had worked for the Hardins here, writing sports stories and covering news. It remained an interest of his. One of many. He loved reading and golfing and Alabama football.

We talked only a short time. Just a few minutes and I was out the door, leaving him to his food and book (I – an avid reader – can appreciate that passion).

I won’t say his death came as a shock to me on Tuesday morning. Because, truthfully, nothing really shocks me anymore. I think it’s this way for many of us, living in this too-fast, too-soon, 21st century.

I will say only that I was surprised. Then, I was saddened.

The collective time I spent with Ralph Stacy in my 38 years maybe only numbered a day. If that.

But I know he was loved.

And I know he’ll be missed.