IF WE’RE lucky and smart, we own up to those few truly very good friends who bless our lives with their presence and influence.
As I sit here in the pre-dawn hours (as is my writer’s wont and habit) of St. Patrick’s Day, my mind locks in and dwells on a couple that, besides Life Mate Julie and my parents, have steered my life onto more joyous and beneficial paths than anyone else.
This friend couple has blessed my life since 1960. Without their friendship and perennial opening of doors to opportunities, any measure of professional success and life pleasures that may have branded me would be impossible.
Rigby and Lucinda Owen are each brilliant in their own right.
MY BEST FRIEND Rigby is one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. He’s aggressive, opinionated and a great debater and his younger-days-fiery red hair symbolized that. Rigby’s business acumen and ability to be successful innovatively and financially is second to no one I’ve ever known.
Once, I said of him, to a group of people and in his presence: “He could start a fight in an empty room.” It hurt his feelings terribly although I meant it as a compliment. Rigby is so smart and well versed on a myriad of subjects that he is unbeatable in a debate. He has a finite understanding of the newspaper business, his first love. However, his late father and Rigby’s brother Steve (business brilliance runs in the family) both voted to accept an unbelievably wonderful offer for the Conroe Courier 40-plus years ago and Rigby acceded to their wishes.
He went into investments, principally commercial real estate, from the newspaper business and has predictably been extraordinarily successful.
AS FOR his capacity to “start a fight…”, he and I were once involved in a newspaper that he’d moved from its origin to a neighboring town in the same county because it was felt it couldn’t be financially successful in its startup home. We moved it to a town where there were two long-established newspapers. We didn’t know we weren’t supposed to succeed, so we did.
One newspaper foe folded in about a year, but the surviving competitor was a financially solid chain operation.
Rigby and I went to call on a big advertiser who we knew was best friends with our competitor paper’s publisher. This was in the 1960s, a time of a war of words between the U.S. and Communist-ruled Russia. Communists were known in those days as “Reds.” America’s zeal produced a slogan: “I’d rather be dead than red.”
As we walked into the business, its balding owner sarcastically barked: “Well, hello Red-on-the-Head.” Rigby knew it was intended as an insult but didn’t miss a beat and, in a derivation of the national slogan of the times, said: “I’d rather be Red-on-the-Head than Dead-on-the-Head.” After all, we knew we were dead in the water (some pun intended) before we launched the sales attempt, but because of the biz owner’s relationship with the competitive publisher we felt we had to carry the battle to all fronts.
That was an attribute of Rigby’s all-out, above-board competitive nature. Business is a serious game he relishes. Success generally is high on his desire list and newspapers still rate A-1 with him.
But, the most serious passion for him is his Life Partner, Lucinda, who has a lifelong flawless complexion and magnificently expressive eyes.
WHILE THAT loving admiration is a mutual feeling, Lucinda has her own passions rooted in an avocation. Besides Rigby and family, her principal passion is horticulture in which she has a master gardener’s designation. You don’t want to debate plants and flowers (or much of anything else) with the bright and well-informed Lucinda, who has the greenest thumb.
Both love to travel and regular trips to places previously unexplored by them is a frequent item on their to-do list.
In addition to the home place on Lake Conroe, they spend time at a country place near Round Top and a summering spot near Santa Fe, N.M.
True friendship is a pearl. Rigby and Lucinda have always looked out for our best interests.
Thanks. We’ve got your back, too.
Willis Webb is a retired community newspaper editor-publisher of more than 50 years experience. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.