We can only hope, when we pass away, that we leave pleasant memories and positive imprints on the lives of our dear family and friends.
Occasionally someone touches so many lives in our little community, in such a profound way, that it is overwhelming. Such was the life of Richard James “Rick” McKiddy.
Described as the “gentle giant”, the two-time kidney transplant survivor passed away on January 19th after a long battle with COVID-19. Sadly, Rick had just celebrated his 44th birthday in the hospital on January 7th of this year, while battling the deadly virus.
It was evident how well Rick was liked, as I read through the many messages of prayers, well wishes and sorrow from his friends and family on social media. The photos posted of him conveys his lovable personality.
Rick’s passions were God, his family, trucking and football. He played high school football from 1992 to 1996 for Whitley County and in 2019, he was inducted into the Whitley County High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
On May 2, 1998, Rick married his high school sweetheart, Kristy Logan, and together they have two sons, Logan, 19, and Rex, 15, both of which are also into football.
Rick was a truck driver, and took his job seriously. He enjoyed his trucking buddies.
Rick was unaware that he was born with only one kidney until he started having health issues in 2005. He was told then he needed a kidney transplant.
His wife, Kristy, found out she was a match and donated Rick his first kidney on their wedding anniversary, May 2, 2006. Unfortunately, in just four short years, the kidney he received failed and he was told he needed another.
Rick’s sister-in-law, Paula Newman, offered to give him one of her kidneys, but doctors feared her kidney would be rejected as it would have the same DNA as his first kidney transplant, so Paula and Rick were entered into the Pair Donor program. She donated her kidney to someone in exchange for Rick to receive a kidney from another matched donor. He received his second kidney transplant in October of 2013. He recovered well from both of the kidney transplants.
COVID-19 is such a horrible virus, and in spite of warnings, Rick and his close-knit family decided to gather together to celebrate Christmas in December. Out of the 25 family members that gathered, 19 of the group ended up with COVID-19. All 19 struggled with many symptoms of the virus, some more than others. However, Rick was more susceptible to the virus, due to his previous health condition and lowered immune system. He battled until he couldn’t anymore.
Rick’s passion for football was so ingrained in him that a few years ago, while talking to a dear friend, Rick said that he wanted to be placed on the Whitley County High School football field at the 50-yard line for his visitation when he passed away. It was jokingly discussed between the two and never really thought of again, until this past week, when that friend told Rick’s wife of the conversation.
Since social distancing is still being recommended, and Kristy knew a lot of people would want to pay their respects, she decided that was just what they would do for his visitation. There would be plenty of room on the field for social distancing.
So, on Friday, January 22nd, Rick got his wish. The Whitley County High School football field was lit up just like it would have been for a football game, only this time, in the middle of the playing field, was a crowd of around 1100 to 1200 people, of whom Rick had touched their lives. They were gathered, yet socially distanced, to pay their respects to a dear friend and loved one for the very last time, who was, just as he had discussed, placed on the 50-yard line.
On Saturday, after a private family visitation at Croley Funeral Home, another special honor was bestowed. In his casket, Rick, was gently carried to his final resting destination at the Thomas Cemetery on Highway 511, by his boss and friend, Will Chambers, on Rick’s own personal semi-truck that was fashioned with a special apparatus to hold his casket securely in place.
My favorite homage to Rick, on social media, posted by his friend, was the statement, “I’ve learned to be a better man from you…” – JT Reed Flee
Wow! What a wonderful legacy to leave behind. If only Rick knew he had touched so many people in such a positive way.