In Memory of Dick Harbin

2 min read

My husband and I learned last week that Dick Harbin passed away from COVID-19. There’s so much to say about a person, even one you know briefly. So many small details that speak to them and their character and of the moment in which you knew them. But here’s what I have to say and what I want to remember.

Dick wasn’t someone I knew well, but he was someone I was looking forward to getting to know. He was one of my dad’s oldest friends–a buddy in high school and then college, best man at his wedding. They stayed in touch for 50 years. 

I met Dick only recently, as my husband and I are hoping to buy a house, and Dick is in the mortgage business. At his office, we were immediately charmed by this tall, friendly man whose joy for his work and the people around him were both contagious and comforting. He was happy to talk about mortgages and financing options and genuinely excited for us to be getting our first home. 

I felt so reassured. I felt that with Dick’s help, we would be able to confidently navigate this complicated business and even come out on top. His office walls were covered with the thank you notes of the many people he had helped. He was one of those interesting characters who never planned to retire–too happy to be at work, to be busy, to be helpful.

I wanted to get to know him better. I was looking forward to it, to the tie between us through my dad and the purchase of my first home. It’s the repetitive human tragedy to have assumed there was more time on this earth to do so. It’s this unique, brutal moment in time, in this pandemic, that took it away.

To his family and loved ones: I’m so sorry for your loss. He was a kindness in this world.

He sent us a thank you note after our meeting. I remember how touched I was to receive one. The thoughtfulness, the simple gesture of time and consideration. It’s still up in our living room.

Rest in peace, Dick.

Photo by Duc Nguyen on Unsplash

9 Replies to “In Memory of Dick Harbin”

  1. That’s a very sweet tribute to a great guy. I’ll miss him very much & I know he’d be very touched by your comments. He was so impressed with you both when you met and confident that you all had “your stuff together.” It’s an interesting thing…the many lives that we touch as we go through life. Dick certainly helped a great many people, as was his nature. He truly loved getting to know folks & had an uncanny knack to recall names & events. This pandemic has, and will continue to, impact so many of us. We’ll make it, but will remember those who didn’t. Love you!

    1. I know for a fact that I consistently underestimate the impact of even the small connections we have with each other as people. But it’s so impressive, this web between us all. And when those strings are cut, especially with such suddenness, the impact is a shudder of sadness.

      Love you too. Stay safe and healthy. <3

  2. I just learned about Dick today. I’m so devastated. I can’t stop crying. He was my friend. He was so nice. I can’t go back to work it won’t be the same. He will be missed.

  3. I’m so sorry that you lost your friend. He’s in my thoughts and my family’s, and we’re grieving for you too–the ones that are left behind. You’re right, things won’t be the same. Loss leaves a void. I’m thinking about you.

    I met Mr. Dick Harbin on 12-31-13.
    He was the driving force in helping me get my first home which I later purchased on June 20, 2014.
    Over these years I’ve continued to send him potential clients because of the seamless care he’s always provided to me since day one.
    I am forever grateful to him.
    Here are some of our brief email correspondences:

    April 14, 2014:
    From Dick Harbin- “I sure hope that this works out well for you.  I am still here…eager to help in any way that I can…so if you ever have questions or concerns, just give me a call or shoot me an e-mail.
    I am thrilled that you have this opportunity to get the house that you want.”

    From Me- “THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! You ROCK!!! You will definitely be on the Cookout Invite Lists!”

    From Dick Harbin- “You’re welcome…and yes, save a plate for me at the cookout…”

    From Me- “I gotcha covered! This property has a pool too, so dust off those swimming trunks just in case…”

    From Dick Harbin- “Noooo….we don’t want to frighten the children…J…a pasty 58-year old white guy, with his shirt off, is not a pretty sight…and then some fool will have a camera phone…and I will end-up on the internet…then the local news…then the national news…lmao…”

    From Me- “LOL! Ok, we can just hold you a plate or two…”

    May 15, 2014:
    From Dick Harbin- “Good morning –
    It looks like you referred these folks to me…if that is the case, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!
    As you may know, I am paid strictly on commission…so a referral like this is truly appreciated.  

I have already replied to them, via e-mail, and will do all that I can to help them.”

    June 30, 2014:
    From Dick Harbin- “Hi there –
    Bless you for that referral/connection.  You are such an angel for always thinking of me.  I hope that you are making good progress on your own property.”

    October 8, 2014:
    From Dick Harbin- “Have you ever gotten an e-hug??  Hugged right through the internet??  Well, consider yourself hugged.  Thank you.
    I will let you know once I have heard from these folks.”

    March 1, 2019:
    From Dick Harbin- “Hi there –
    I came across some old emails and came across this one…so I had to take a minute just to say “hey”
     I sure hope that you are well!
     Stay in touch…you are one of my favorites J”

    Over these nearly 6 1/2 years, he has become a friend and confidant. It was definitely an honor to have known him. It has truly heartbreaking to find that he had past of this dreadful disease when I had sent him not one, but TWO possible referrals, only to receive undeliverable email error messages. This concerned me to I began searching my Detective Google search early this morning to come upon this post.

    Thank you for posting this information. His family shall remain in my prayers and his legacy of being a great man, God’s servant, and a true friend shall be what I hold very dear to my heart… #TheTearsAreStillFalling #WhyBeGood2PeopleWhenYouCanBeGreat #MyHomeGuardianAngel

    He would not want me to be sad right now. If we were talking on the phone, he’d want us to end with a good laugh or nice sentiment. So, here ya go Dick Harbin…

    In the words of the Golden Girls, “Thank you for being a friend
    Traveled down a road and back again
    Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidant
    I’m not ashamed to say
    I hope it always will stay this way
    My hat is off, won’t you stand up and take a bow
    And if you threw a party
    Invited everyone you knew
    Well, you would see the biggest gift would be from me
    And the card attached would say
    Thank you for being a friend.”

    Mr. Dick Harbin, you were definitely my “pal” & my “confidant!” – Love always, Your Prayer Warrior Ms. Marquita Kennedy in Maryland

    God bless each and every one of you & thank you for taking the time to read my heartfelt post… #COVIDisUnfair #PrayWithoutCeasing #ThisTooShallPass

  5. Way back in the days of my Thoroughbred Connection radio program in California, I crossed paths with Dick Harbin when he called in to the show all the way from Maryland.

    He told me that his passion for horse racing was fueled in the early 70s by Secretariat’s Triple Crown exploits and grown at places like Pimlico, Timonium, and Laurel Park.

    Dick had such a great gift of talking about racing that I asked him to join Derek Simon and me as a co-host (by phone) of the radio program.

    He was a natural on the air and always brought a solid take to Thoroughbred Connection.

    We only spent one day together, during my visit to MD in 2009, but I remember it was a fun trip to Laurel Park for an afternoon of simulcast wagering.

    I didn’t have much contact with Dick after I moved to Iowa, but we did exchange a few emails over the years.

    In one of his last emails, he included the following:

    So good to hear from you …what a terrific surprise! Rest assured that our time together will always rank among my most fun/fond memories. To think that a humble horse-player, like me, had a thrilling opportunity like you provided … I still shake my head at the serendipity of it all. Thank you, once again.

    He was a good guy who loved the game!

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