Remembering Hardy Rickbeil

Like many others in Worthington, I was saddened to hear about Hardy Rickbeil’s passing on Sunday.

I will not pretend to have known him very well; I only met him once, although I saw him around the community in all sorts of capacities. Hardy seems to have been one of those hyper-involved people that had something to do with the YMCA, something to do with the Crailsheim program, something to do with Turkey Day, something to do with the historical society, something to do with… well, just about everything in Worthington, really.

And if he was like that in his late 90s and early 100s, I can only imagine how much he was involved in when he was younger.

I met Hardy at a Crailsheim banquet, when he was the main speaker of the day.

I would not have guessed his age at more than 80, but he was already 99. For reference, Hardy graduated from the Worthington High School class of 1926. He was already a business leader in 1934, as you can see from this article.

Our website’s online archive goes back less than a decade, but there are quite a few references to Hardy even in that short period of time.

I have met a lot of older people over the past few years, working at the Daily Globe, and many of them could be described as fun, funky, and spunky people.

Contrary to some people’s perceptions, not all senior citizens are fuddy duddies. Just like young people, a large number of them are forward thinking, enterprising, and tech-savvy. Research indicates that 40% of the 65+ crowd uses the internet, for example, and though that’s not a majority it is a very substantial minority. My grandfather, a semi-retired lawyer in his 80s, checks his stocks online daily. My grandmother, a semi-retired secretary, uses email to communicate with the family. And I would be proud to hang out with any of my three surviving grandparents any time, and would even if they weren’t related to me. They’re just fun people.

I don’t know if Hardy was tech-savvy, but even though I only met him once, I could tell he had a strong entrepreneurial spirit, and saw opportunities for people and the community in all sorts of endeavors. I’m not saying he was one of those irritating people who seem to have manic smiles glued their faces all the time, but he was very positive, upbeat and interested in all sorts of issues. He wasn’t just "with-it." He never outgrew his intellectual curiosity.

It is true, I think, that associating with young people helps keep you young, but the kind of young people you need to associate with are the people who are young in spirit, not those who are simply chronologically-impaired. At the age of 99, and I have no doubt, the remainder of his life, Hardy was quite young.

I wish I had known Hardy better.

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