This is my tribute to my friend, Ricky. When I was a young man, helping my dad as a scout leader in Boy Scout Troop 170, Ricky was a young Tenderfoot. Ricky is the oldest son of a family of three boys. Looking back, it seems that the good Lord had given Ricky the golden opportunity to train for his lifetime role of being an older brother to others. For truly, Ricky was and still is the good, older brother to his two brothers.
In scouts, Ricky had an incredible enthusiasm for hiking, camping, pioneering, outdoor cooking, knot tying, semaphore flag signaling, and map and compass work. Not only did Ricky have a thirst to learn, as he grew as a scout, but he always put forth his best foot to teach the younger scouts what he knew.
Ricky was a scout from about the mid 1970’s to the early 1980’s. He was a natural leader. I remember that at the big camporees, where there would be dozens of scout troops camping out together, Ricky’s enthusiasm for scouting would inspire the other scouts in Troop 170 to do their very best in scouting competitions.
One of Ricky’s the qualities that I remember about Ricky, is that he had an incredible degree of patience. If a scout tied a knot the wrong way, in one of the scout relay competitions, Ricky would say something like, “don’t worry about it, I did the same thing once when I was your age.” Then, Ricky would laugh, not a laugh of mockery but rather a laugh that said, “hey kid, don’t worry, so what if you tied one little knot the wrong way!”
As a scout, Ricky always had a great sense of fairness and his eyes focused on doing the right thing. We used to go on deep freeze campouts at Camp Allamuchy. We would campout in one of the many log cabins at the camp in the midst of a cold winter’s snow. Every scout was expected to pull his own weight on the deep freeze campout. Sometimes a younger scout would choose to build a snow fort or run through the woods with his friends, rather than take his turn at chopping wood. As a senior scout, Ricky would never holler at the young misguided scout. Instead, Ricky would take the time and patience to simply explain to the young Tenderfoot that he had an important job to do, that the other scouts and scout leaders all had jobs to do. He would often refer to our scout troop as a family.
Most recently, Ricky had open heart surgery. He had a rough time of it, a very rough time of it. In keeping in touch with Ricky’s brother through emails, I was grateful to be updated on Ricky’s condition. In my time of praying for Ricky, I realized what a good example he was to so very many scouts. Then, I realized that Ricky was also a shining light to my fellow scout leaders and to myself. As Scoutmaster, my dad always spoke highly of Ricky and his two brothers.
The other day I got the news that Ricky pulled through the toughest times of his post-operative phase. Ricky is home now. He’s not out of the woods yet, but Ricky is an expert at leading the way through the thick of the forest.
In this article, I should have referred to Ricky as Richard. But the truth of the matter is that Richard will always be Ricky, in my heart. From the young and enthusiastic Tenderfoot to the seasoned senior scout, who knew the Boy Scout Handbook like the back of his hand, Ricky was one of Boy Scout Troop 170’s finest scouts. Thank you Richard, for being an inspiration to so very many people.
Richard Mabey Jr.