Roy Ford

My friend Roy Ford died yesterday.

He would have been your friend, too. Roy was that kind of guy.

I’ve known  Roy since I was … fifteen? Sixteen, maybe? He came into my orbit (or I came into his) when he was dating a close friend of mine, Dee. He was three years older than me, and we were involved in the same church youth group. You want to know the kind of guy Roy was? Dee’s brother, David, was still friends with Roy years after the couple parted ways. How many younger brothers stay friends with their sister’s ex?

Roy was killed when an electrical job he was working on went wrong. He was trapped underneath the house where he was working. It took rescue workers a long time to get to him. CPR failed. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

Roy was a Boy Scout. Literally. He loved music. The things I used to know about running a sound board, I learned from Roy and Scott Robertson. I’ve forgotten pretty much everything I knew back in the day (as my wife can attest), but there was a time when I was pretty good at it. And part of the reason was that Roy freely gave of his time, talent, and expertise.

You know what else Roy loved? Corny jokes. I’m not sure who told worse jokes when we were kids and the world was young, but the running was between Roy, Brad Boland and Blair Andress. I was a distant fourth at best. I have unapologetically stolen more of their jokes than I care to count, and I’m the king of horrible jokes among my friends these days. When they roll their eyes at me, I think of Roy. We all rolled our eyes at him, too — but we loved him. It was impossible to do anything else.

Roy laughed easily. And loudly. If you ever heard Roy laugh once, you would always remember the sound. Roy wore his joie de vivre like a tailored suit. You couldn’t help smiling around Roy.

And Roy loved people, plain and simple. I’ve never met another person with such a genuine, giving spirit. The cliche’ is “He’s the kind of guy who’d give you the shirt off of his back.” Roy would do that. I’m firmly convinced that he’s the reason that cliche’ exists. And if you weren’t careful, Roy would try to give you his pants, too.

Yeah, I went for a cheap laugh there. Cheap laughs are all I have this morning. A friend is dead, and it hurts like hell.

I make no pretense that Roy was my best friend. He wasn’t. I was just another guy he poured some of his life into. There are others: David Nimrod, David Wallace, Patrick Smith. I could go on. We’re all better people because we knew Roy.

We reconnected a few years ago, via Facebook, of course. We talked on the phone once or twice, and chatted a couple of times. Roy always wanted to get together for a visit, but I was never able to make it happen. Something always came up. And now I won’t get the chance to hear that booming, hyena-like laugh again.

Damn it.

Roy Ford. Dead at 44. The world is a dimmer place without you in it, my friend.

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