|I first knew Henry Rickey when we were teenage boys in Natchitoches. When I entered Normal College in March, 1924, his father was pastor of the church. Henry graduated Valedictorian of the Natchitoches High School class that spring and entered Normal in the summer. For the next half century we were unusually close friends. Our wives were lifetime friends, and our children grew up together. We shared many hours of experiences and hopes as Methodist ministers. We were admitted on trial together at the Conference of 1931.
Henry Aubrey Rickey was born February 18, 1908, in Jacksonville, Alabama. He was from a family of Methodist ministers, not only his father, but uncles on his mother’s side and even his great grandfather. The Methodist Church was in his blood, and there was never any question about what Henry would do when he grew up. Born to Harry W. Rickey and Octavia Wynn Rickey, he offered himself for license to preach in 1925 at the age of 17. Thus, he was a Methodist minister more than fifty years.
Henry received his higher education from Louisiana State Normal College, Emory University, and Yale University. He was a scholar of rare ability and unusual intellect. One of the brightest minds in the Conference, he could look at an issue and give a clear interpretation of the facts. Centenary College honored him with the Doctor of Divinity Degree in the spring of 1961.
He married Nell Honeycutt June 18, 1934, and they had two children, Patricia Rickey Jones and David. They had one grandson.
Though this family served across Louisiana, they often lived in New Orleans, where at one period Henry was District Superintendent. Other important assignments were Coushatta, Bogalusa, Tallulah, Lafayette and Minden. One of the very successful positions he held was District Superintendent of the Ruston District. He also had a useful and happy ministry in North Arkansas as Superintendent of the Conway District. Perhaps the crowning achievement of his ministry was at Aurora Methodist Church in Algiers, where he led in a mammoth building program for that growing community consisting of a youth building, office building and sanctuary.
Henry received the highest honors the Methodist Church in Louisiana could give. As a delegate to the General and Jurisdictional Conferences and the World Council, he was a clear voice of Methodism. He served on most of the important boards and agencies of the Conference, and at the time of his retirement was chairman of the prestigious Council on Finance and Administration of the Louisiana Conference.
Upon his retirement in June 1975, he and Nell moved to Shreveport, a city where he had never served. Immediately he set out to make a place for himself in that city. He took a small church, Love Chapel in Bossier City, and joined a number of community organizations. He was on the executive committee of the Methodist Retirement Service of North Louisiana and became chairman of the Shreveport chapter of “Sons of the American Revolution.” His untimely death resulted from an automobile accident November 6, 1976. He died going to get plants for his garden. This was like Henry.
Henry Rickey can never be captured in any set of statistics. He was strong willed, yet tolerant. He was incisive, yet compassionate. He had keen convictions, yet was broadminded. He left his mark everywhere he went. As was said of Abraham Lincoln at his death, “A giant oak tree has fallen in the forest and has left a lonesome place against the sky.” We will miss Henry for a long time to come
|Source: Journal Louisiana Conference 1977, p. 172 By Jolly B. Harper|