I’m convinced God puts people in my path when I need them most.
It was about 12 years ago I found out about a photographer who might be interested in taking photos for the newspaper. That’s when I gave Ronnie Day a call. A few days later, he walked into my office and we met for the first time.
He started taking sports photos for me that next weekend, and from there, our friendship grew.
He would go in one direction on a Friday night, and I would go another.
The best memories came when we traveled together – like to Jackson for state championships or into rural Arkansas for a game when his GPS took us to a bean field.
And we had tons of fun working together on a couple of Profile Editions.
I decided rather than feature stories, we’d do sections titled “24 Hours in the Life of Marshall County.”
That’s when I called Ronnie to see if he could help. I told him we would start at 12:01 a.m., combing the county for photos, and finish up at 11:59 p.m. Of course, he said “yes.”
We rode from one end of Marshall County to the other, trying to stay awake and meeting lots of good folks.
We were on Highway 7 South around Betty Davis Grocery when he asked me if I’d ever had a barbecue from there. I hadn’t, but it was still morning. Needless to say, I had barbecue for breakfast.
Ronnie took senior photos for my two oldest children, Emma and Andy. And just last spring, he took photos of my youngest, Erin, in preparation for a school pageant.
The taking of the senior photos for Emma is a special memory for our family. Ronnie accompanied the Burlesons to Camp Tahkodah in Floral, Ark. Emma attended church camp there as a youngster, and that’s where she wanted her senior photos taken.
Again, Ronnie just said, “Tell me when.”
The senior photos still decorate our house, as do family photos he took the same day.
I also soon learned Ronnie had many more talents in addition to being an excellent photographer. Both at the office and at my house, he responded when I needed an electrician.
And then there was the time Pam and I heard a noise in our fireplace. It appeared to be coming from just above the closed flue. Listening more closely, it was obviously a bird that was flapping its wings trying to get out.
We hoped it would escape, but a few days later we smelled something dead.
“Who are you going to call to help?” Pam asked.
“Ronnie,” I said.
As he used some hedge clippers to reach up into that fireplace and pull that bird out, he shouted, “It’s a duck.” Feathers were flying, an egg fell and then the bird itself dropped into the container I was holding.
I cherish the memories.
Last week, after a battle with cancer, Ronnie died at home with his loving family at his side.
His death has left a void in my life that no one else will ever fill. He was much more than a good friend; he was a family member, a brother.
But I know Ronnie is taking his most beautiful pictures ever in Heaven.