How do you say goodbye to someone you respect in the middle of a pandemic? “Only a few people were allowed to go to the funeral, but many of us wanted to show how we felt,” says Kerry Graves, Green County. “We did what we know how to do — take our farm machinery and park it along the road where the hearse would pass on the way to the cemetery.”
The farmer was Teddy York, 71. His death wasn’t related to COVID-19, but restrictions only allowed a fraction of those who wanted to pay their respects to do so at the funeral home.
Jordan White, another farmer in the county, helped organize the show of affection for York.
“Everyone in our community could tell you story after story about Teddy being at their ballgames umpiring or refereeing,” White says. “He always had a smile on his face. Win or lose, he was always there cheering everyone up. He was one of a kind. Anytime a neighbor needed help, he would be the first one in line to offer manpower and/or equipment. He loved running bulldozers, excavators and backhoes.”
York was on the Green County 4-H board, the county FSA board and the White river Co-op board, among other things. But it wasn’t his service on these boards that fellow farmers like Graves and White remember most.
“You could ask any farmer in the county about Teddy, and they would all have stories to tell,” White says. “You would never hear a bad story from anyone. He was always trying to help someone else.”
So why did White help organize the show of support? “It’s plain and simple; he deserved nothing less,” White says. “Farming is such a small, close-knit community. We are fewer and farther between as the years go on. When I was a kid, there were a lot of farmers throughout our county. Now you can almost name them all off on a short list.
“You take a man like Teddy, and this was the best way our farming community could pull together to pay our respects. With COVID restrictions in place, I knew this was the best we could do.”