Let me tell you about Rick Mize

Published 6:00 am Sunday, July 10, 2016

Rick Mize may be Oxford’s only Country Music Awards winner.

The CMA’s are a big deal, yes, and Rick Mize has one. But you can’t find him touting that fact everywhere, however.

I looked him up on LinkedIn and searched in some other spots to see, though I already knew the answer. He doesn’t flaunt the fact, by any means.

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Mize will tell you about his Christian faith, and he will ask about your family.  He will talk about sports, especially Ole Miss or local high schools. But, he’s not one to do much self-promotion.

So let me do the bragging here: Mize won the CMA in 1991 when he lived and worked on the Gulf Coast, as a manager and morning show co-host at popular country station, K99. He and Gwen Wilson shared the honor, and Rick had his face flashed on national television briefly during the CMA’s broadcast.

Mize returned home in 1998 and has been a fixture in the community since, both as a radio professional as general manager of WQLJ and WTNM and morning host on Q105, and as an all around good man. He’s active in his church, and is known for seeing the best in others, and in his community.

The glass isn’t half full from Rick’s perspective; it’s completely full.

He and I have known one another casually over the years, more based upon mutual respect bred from our same-hometown backgrounds and many friends we have in common.

But it was not what one might call a close relationship, simply because our paths never really crossed that much. We just shared a love of many of the same things and the same people.

And that’s where this story really begins, since three years ago Rick Mize quietly emerged as an important person in my life, achieving this from a distance with a warm touch and a guiding comfort at a most difficult time.

The year was 2013 and my oldest child, William, had just died tragically.

We didn’t live in Oxford at the time, but had for many years, and my late son had attended elementary schools here and graduated from Ole Miss, so word spread quickly through the city, as it does at such moments.

Among the first people I heard from was Rick Mize, who reached out early in my family’s grief with support and kindness that frankly was above and beyond the call.

Days later, he followed up. Days later, he followed up again.

I’m here, he said.

Because his daughter, Kayla, had died tragically years before, Rick clearly understood that he had a unique perspective and comfort to offer someone faced with similar circumstance.

He was paying it forward.

I remembered hearing about Rick’s daughter’s tragic death. The year was 2005, and Kayla’s story spread far and wide.

She was a 17-year-old senior in high school and everybody’s all-star, as a student, friend and talent. I wondered when I heard the news that I can’t imagine how Rick and his family will get through it.

But they did, and then some, even growing in the years since from the life changing experience, as God’s grace allows us to do.

I ran into Rick once while visiting the city several years after her death and we talked briefly about the pain of losing a child, especially a child sprinkled with so much wonderful dust.

And then I moved on along, unaware that the same fate would come our way a few years later. But when it did, there he was, this hometown comrade that I didn’t know beyond casual conversation stepping in as a best man of support from afar.

Rick’s effort and words proved to be the right touch, the right comfort. He gave hope that the most difficult days would get better. And, they did.

My family, too, has grown since our tragic moment. We have Rick Mize and others like him to thank for that. He’s an award-winning personality in my estimation, so the CMA’s had it right.

David Magee is Publisher of The Oxford EAGLE. He can be reached at david.magee@oxfordeagle.com.