Thursday, January 6, 2011
Fitch Farm Field Trial
By SUE WATSON
With the untimely death last year of Tom Honecker, developer of Cedar Oaks Plantation, Fitch Farms-Galena Plantation dedicated its national field trial to the sportsman.
A prominent Ohio field trainer, Honecker was an avid outdoorsman with a love of bird dog field trials. He held many offices for a number of clubs, and held a yearly field trial at Cedar Oaks several weeks before the Fitch Farms trials.
His wife, Mary, was on hand at Fitch Farms for the dedication of the 2010 field trials in his memory. Honecker’s Open Prairie Trials were held two weeks before the December 6 trials at Fitch Farms.
Sheriff Kenny Dickerson, a close friend of Honecker, discussed the legacy left by Honecker in the Marshall County community and to the sport.
Honecker’s contribution to the field trial sport was unsurpassed, the sheriff said. Beyond his contributions to the sport at the national level, he was a brother and a father to many, he said.
Dickerson said he lost a close friend and a brother figure.
His death, at age 61, left a void this year in the field trial family, the sheriff said.
Honecker was inducted into the National Bird Dog Museum’s Field Trial Hall of Fame due in great part to the support of W.O. Fitch. Dickerson said Honecker’s reputation and contributions to the sport will be remembered for years to come.
“We have so many here today....We need to, and must continue the field trial environment for the young,” he said.
If the young were exposed to a positive model as the sport provides, fewer of the young would be in jail for drug-related activities, he said. Healthy sports provide a positive influence for families and friends.
“You (Mr. Fitch) are a positive contribution to what it takes to keep America great and to keep our youth rising in a positive manner instead of falling,” Dickerson said.
“You just don’t know how much it means to have friends (associated with outdoor sports).”
Honecker was more than a sunshine friend and a field trial contributor, the sheriff said.
“Where there was a need - a person, a church, a school - Tom would always step up to the plate as a silent petitioner,” Dickerson said. “He was a father figure to some, a brother figure to me.”
As a person moves through life, they experience the sunshine friends but do not always have the kind of friend who stands by when it rains, the sheriff said. Honecker was a true friend.
“He loved his wife and children and had a rapport with his dogs,” Dickerson said. “No one had a greater friendship with his animals.”
A true friend is one who can disagree and still remain a friend, he said.
“He left some big shoes to be filled.”
Recognizing Jerry Bolden, Dickerson said more sports are needed for the young, more natural sports like the rodeo and the outdoors.
“Whatever your influence is, you do not realize what a positive role you play,” Dickerson said.
“It is from within, what I do.”
Dickerson met Honecker in 1995 when he was elected sheriff of Marshall County and the two became close friends.
“I was 63 years old November 5 and I am so thankful to our Lord and Savior to cross paths with people in this room who are dear to my heart. True friendship means so much. A true friend will stand by you.”
He thanked Bill Fitch and others for what they did to help Honecker become a member of the Field Trial Hall of Fame and for dedicating the 2010 field trial to his long-time friend.
“Everyone’s part is a part of the puzzle,” he said. “It’s always important to be there, whether you get recognized or not. I am a better person for having met Tom Honecker.”
Dr. Fred Corder also spoke.
“Tom was like a father to me,” he said. “I’d like to thank Mr. Tom for all the advice he gave me over the years. I really miss him.”
Fitch said he met Honecker, who at the time was looking for good land for field trials in Marshall County.
“He kept bugging me about buying some land,” Fitch recalled. “It was snowing and sleeting and Steve Hurdle called me about looking for some land. That’s the way Cedar Oaks got started - snow and sleet. We (Honecker and Fitch) were hard headed, but we could be friends.”
In dedicating remarks, the following was written in memory of Honecker – “He was a son, husband, father, grandfather, loyal friend and a larger-than-life personality. His absence has created a large vacuum in many lives. He was an excellent advisor and mentor to many in times of crisis and could be counted on to deliver, when he had committed, and to accomplish any task.”
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