A tribute to Bud Ricketts
Beloved by his family and all who knew him, Bud Ricketts ended his life’s journey on May 12, 2015, one day after his ninetieth birthday. Born May 11, 1925, as Thomas Franklin Ricketts Jr., only son of Fannie Omelia White and Thomas Franklin Ricketts, “Bud” grew up with three terrific sisters, Emma Wade and Louise Nesbitt who died several years ago, and Mildred Copous, who lives in Waynesboro.
From a young age, Bud worked hard with his dad in the fields and in the woods, and learned every hill and holler up Flat Gap Creek just outside the Olive Hill community. Despite his many travels all over the world, he loved that spot of ground on Flat Gap more than any place on earth. He said so just last week.
And travel he did, first whisked off the farm to WWII in 1942 when he was barely 18 years old. Upon arrival in California, Bud was put in the Navy because he was short and built like a seaman. By his count, he spent two years, six months and six days serving his country in WWII, primarily on board the USS Harry Lee, a troop transport ship in the South Pacific. He never said much about it, but was offshore during the battle of Iwo Jima, and would tell stories about watching the battle from the ship in later years. Even though he sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge and saw a big part of the world during the war, he could never wait to get back home to Flat Gap.
Shortly after returning from the war, he married the love of his life, Robbie Mae Evans, on July 12, 1947, and convinced her to move from Hardin’s Creek to Flat Gap, where he built their house himself. They had one son in 1949, David Michael (who is a towboat captain), and made their living working at the Genesco shoe factory in Waynesboro for many years. Bud couldn’t wait to get home from work and throw on his signature coveralls and cap, and head to Hardin’s Creek to help one of Robbie’s seven brothers with farming. He loved it.
He also raised cattle and big gardens on Flat Gap in the summer, and always had enough Mississippi silver peas growing on the Turkey Hill for anyone that wanted a mess. Any blade of grass or weed quickly learned to fear Bud and his lawnmower, and he was always happy to have a chainsaw in hand cutting firewood. He loved riding his three and four wheelers back in the woods and in the fields, and loved his dear neighbors on the creek and always helped them any way he could. Bud also had a personal relationship with the Lord all during his life, but was a private, quiet man about things in his heart.
Bud and Robbie travelled all over the country, often with family, on vacations. They went out west, to Florida, all over really, and even to Mexico. One of their favorite places was the Great Smoky Mountains, and they went there so many times they lost count. They took their last trip there in October 2014 with David, his dear wife Glenda, and all the grandkids. What fun they had!
Speaking of grandkids, Bud has three grandchildren, Melinda Phelan, Julie Lowry and Mickey Ricketts, who all live in Dallas now, but grew up on Flat Gap right next door to him and Robbie. “Pop”, as they affectionately call him, was the best grandfather a kid could have, and he taught them all how to do important things in life like being honest, working hard, helping others, and never giving up. They also learned a lot of practical things from him like how to put tin on a roof, dig a well, grow a garden, dig potatoes, drive farm trucks and tractors, cut wood, and do all kinds of other things most kids never get a chance to learn.
Bud also has six (almost seven) lovely great-grandchildren that all live in Dallas: Travis, Tiffany, Trevor and Taezja Phelan, Ben and Izzy Lowry, and Mickey’s boy Thomas on the way and due in August. He has four great-great grandsons, Noah and Dawson O’Connor, and Aden and Tully Phelan. Bud was a fool about those grandchildren, and they sure do love their Pop very much. He made them slingshots, taught them to play dominoes, rode them around on four wheelers all through his 80s, and couldn’t wait to go to the Smoky Mountains with them every year.
Bud and Robbie were born to large families, and he had many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews, and on and on down the line that loved him like a father and a grandfather. He was the same with all of them–funny, kind and caring, and good to all of them and their families. Lord knows he loved a good family reunion whether Ricketts, Evans or White.
Suffice it to say, a truly great man has gone to be with the Lord and the souls of so many that he loved that went on before him. His many friends and his family will miss him terribly. Bud Ricketts was one of a kind, and there will never be another like him. He was smart, funny, hardworking, handsome, loyal and incredibly nice and caring. His family and friends will always remember him as the best husband, dad, brother, father-in-law, brother-in-law, uncle, neighbor, cousin, friend and Pop anyone could be, and give thanks to God for his wonderful time here on earth and his legacy that will live on forever through generations to come. Amen.
Services were held on Saturday, May 16, at 11 a.m., at Shackelford Chapel in Savannah with Tony Polk officiating. Burial followed in Mt. Carmel Cemetery at Savannah.
A tribute to Bud Ricketts