My Friend Ted

Family Matters

Over the last 11 years I’ve used my public platform of Family Matters to write about many topics from childhood indiscretions, bullying and my family’s ever-changing life.

Sadly over these years I’ve written about losses inside and outside of my family, such as Jimmy Rheault, “My Hero My Friend,” and Mr. Mills, a friend’s father and Scout leader — the first adult to tell me I was being a dumba– when I nearly cut off my toe swimming at 2 a.m. in Lake Medora.

In the June column I asked for energy or prayers for a good friend, Ted, who sadly is no longer with us. These are my memories:

I have to start with his mom, the original “Mrs. C.” Like Mrs. Cunningham from “Happy Days,” she always welcomed us kids in her home.

She would make us popcorn and serve it in a giant wooden bowl and leave us to our Dungeons and Dragons or let us play Pitfall on the Atari 5600.

In our teen years, when she suspected we might be smoking, she gave us a “talking to” that had such an effect that I’ve used it myself when working with kids. Yes, she’s that parent that everyone loved.

Ted and I grew up in Scouting, and my favorite memory has to be our winter camping trips. The ones at the Lake Linden Sportsman Club actually had snow and, of course, “snipe hunting,” but the worst one with the best memories was the one in Baraga County — no snow but a freezing night in a tent. Ted’s smile, even in times of freezing cold, could make the day a brighter day.

Ted’s high school girlfriend grew up in Hubbell with me, and I was often the third wheel, from swimming to a Tesla concert in Marquette. They never made me feel like I didn’t belong, and to this day some of those times together as friends and classmates were the best.

Ted worked with me at KFC in the early 90s and then joined me at the Chassell Berry Farm where I was manager. Ted met the mother of his girls at KFC, and I again had the honor of watching that relationship grow. They lived in this tiny apartment on Portage Street in Houghton, and my favorite memory was the night Ted and I watched “Army of Darkness,” which at the time I never knew was part of the Evil Dead trilogy.

Ted would play Rush and wouldn’t ask you to listen — he would make you listen and watch you with that smile on his face and a look of anticipation that you would like it. I did. He was I feel their biggest fan.

My saddest memory involved a dog that I had, Yipper, a beagle. Ted was the biggest dog lover I’ve ever met, with his dog Jake as evidence (Lake Linden’s roaming mascot), being his best friend for years. Yipper rode with us in the truck, went to bonfires and was just as much Ted’s buddy as mine.

Yipper ran out the door one day and was hit by a car and sadly needed to be put down. I kept his collar, and on that collar Ted had a charm on it. I went to KFC and said nothing, I just held up the collar. He cried, and I cried, and not a word was spoken.

When it came time to get married, I didn’t have to look to far for a best man. His joke was that he spelled his name wrong on the license in case I ever wanted to get out of it.

As it happens for many, life happened. He married and had kids. I had kids. Now here we are 22 years later with him gone too soon. This short column will never do him justice for the many times he made me smile, made me laugh and just made my day.

Rest in peace, Ted, you’ll never be forgotten.