Ponca, Nebraska – September 16, 2011
As I write these words a fire is burning down in our fireplace at the cabin here in Ponca State Park. This isn’t just any fire, it was a tribute fire for Dick Lattimer, our friend who passed away last week.
Dick and Carol Mauch are here with me and retired Game Warden Dick Turpin was also here. We had a nice supper of venison backstrap Dick cooked on the grill along with special potatoes, homemade guacamole, homemade slaw, fresh tomatoes that grew on Plum Creek at the Mauch’s camp, and corn. We were all seated at the large table here and in the Mauch tradition, a plate was set for our pal Dick.
After dinner and many funny stories by Dick and Dick, who both hunted with Fred Bear and Dick Lattimer a number of times, we went to the fireplace. I started a nice fire and as it got going Dick got an old cedar arrow with a Bear razor head on it that Dick Lattimer had used to hunt turkey at Plum Creek. He also had the paper plate with the meal on it. He placed the plate on the fire first and then placed the arrow onto the fire. As we all silently watching it ignite Dick began to recite “Death the Collector” by Edgar Guest. As he was finishing the poem, the cedar arrow burned in two and the feather end fell out of the fire. It was a fitting moment for the arrow to break in two… signaling not the end but a new beginning for Dick.
After a few moments, I read Dick Lattimer’s eulogy he had written for Fred Bear. It talks about the creatures of the forest who understood that the crow had come to tell them of the death of the gentle bear… That was one of the most beautiful and moving eulogies I’d ever heard. I figured Dick would have appreciated having that read at this special occasion. The man who’d been Fred’s right hand man for more than 25 years was now in Heaven sitting by a campfire with Fred, Earl Hoyt and other archers we have lost in recent years.
We captured the evening on video and with photos. As the fire fades down I am enjoying this evening with an 84 year old legend, and one of the last of Fred’s circle. Dick Mauch is a special, special man. Although saddened by Dick’s death, he’s also been able to laugh with us this evening while telling some of the funny stories about Lattimer, Fred and others. I wanted to write this now while it was fresh in my mind. Tomorrow early we will have some of Dick’s special sour dough waffles and then it will be show time.
One more reflection came to mind. I have been a lucky, lucky man to have been in the right place at the right time many times in my life. It seems that my time in archery has allowed me to cross paths with some real legends, and make some solid friendships that have enriched my life. People like Fred Bear, Earl and Ann Hoyt, Rev. Stacy Groscup, Dick Lattimer, and Dick and Carol Mauch don’t come along everyday. I am happy that I have shared time with them and hope that I can pass along a fraction of what each has taught me.
Dick Lattimer was perhaps the sports best promoter, PR and advertising man. Fred Bear was a great man indeed and was lucky to have someone as skilled as Dick Lattimer to capture his story and share it with the world in the ads, articles and TV appearances. Dick’s “Become a Two Season Hunter” is perhaps his biggest ad campaign and helped usher in the huge wave of growth our sport saw in the late 1970’s. That single campaign encourages thousands of firearm hunters to try archery for the first time. It was Bear’s invitation to try archery and many answered the call.
Although Dick’s typewriter, computer and camera equipment sit quietly now, there was a time when Dick’s fingers could make words, thoughts and ideas come to life on the pages. A time when he would spend hours setting up just the right photo for his idea. I have heard Carol Mauch talk about that several times. Dick wanted everything just so-so for the photo. He was a perfectionist when it came to his photos. I have some in my drawer he once sent me of Fred and I talking at a private party in Atlanta during one of the SHOT shows.
Dick’s Fred Bear photos always told a story and always had class. He presented the hunt in a specific way that had respect for the animal, for Fred, and told a story. It’s a little sad to think that no longer will we benefit from Dick’s talented way of presenting ideas and stories, and it’s likely we won’t see someone with his talent at it for a long, long time. Some of those coming into the sport today would do well to study not only the way Fred Bear did things, but the way Dick Lattimer presented things to the public. There’s a right way to do it and Dick Lattimer is a man that always got it right. I admired him and am glad to have called him friend. Now his equipment sits quietly, never will his brilliant fingers bang out a story, press release or ad campaign again.
This evening has been a special evening. Just as the embers of the fire glow, a quiet reminder of the fire, we’ll always have quiet reminders of Dick around. A special photo of Fred, an old ad, or just the memory of the way Dick lived his life. An honorable, good man. He’ll be missed. Thanks Dick, like Fred, you have helped “Show us how.”
Frank Addington, Jr.