Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Montgomery has lost her smile

There are certain people you get to know in this tiny village - people you get to know rather quickly.

There's our mayor (and former neighbor) Steve, who made us feel so very welcome when we first moved here, and who loves Montgomery to his core.

There's Rags, the proprietor of the antique shop down the block from us - he marches in every parade as a proud veteran.

There's Rabbit, a Trustee whom you can find outside the Old Fashioned Deli on any pleasant evening, just chewing the fat with his buddies.

And then there's Richie. Everyone knows Richie. With a smile, and sometimes a hug or kiss, he greeted everyone as family. He rode with the firemen during General Montgomery Day parades, head held high, smile as big as his heart. There's a picture in Village Hall of him with Robin Williams during that movie shoot several years ago. Whether it was evening at Copperfield's or mid-day at The Daily Bean, you could always find Richie checking in with the local businesses and neighbors, just making sure everything was okay. Strangers might label him developmentally disabled, but Montgomery just knew him as one of their own. He was surrounded by people who respected and loved him.

Richie passed away last Friday, and all of Montgomery mourns.

Rest in peace, sweet man.

ETA: For a beautiful article on his life, as well as stunning photos of the funeral procession, go here.


Eric K. said...

It's not often that someone has that kind of impact on a town for simply just being themselves. It's good to know that he was treated the way he was.

Norskybear said...

Sad to find out that you're in Montgomery this way. I currently teach special education at a high school in the city, so I know how wonderful Richie must have been.

My partner, Monte, and I have a cabin in Smallwood. Every time we pass by the sign for your town, I joke that they named it after him. (His mother REALLY liked Montgomery Cliff.)

Would be fun to get together and knit with you sometime, although we'll have to leave the knitting inside if we have a cigar on the porch.

Are you heading to the Bethel Woods Harvest Festival this weekend? I've been to every one this year and will be again this Sunday. (Want to learn how to play the banjo...) Fell in love two weeks ago with the alpacas and currently looking for a farmhouse with about 10 acres in Sullivan County. Hope to meet you at Rhinebeck, if not sooner!