He was the type of person who greeted everyone the same way, with an engaging warmth that immediately made you want to be his friend.
I never met anyone who didnt like Dick Harmon.
I never met anyone who knew him well that didnt think he was one of the kindest, most genuine people they had ever known. And they were right. You may read articles telling you about his teaching prowess and his standing in the golf community, but of much more importance is his measure as a man and the enormous content of his character.
When my brother and sister and I were young we had the tremendous luck of having the Harmon boys as baby sitters. Dick was our favorite. A teenager with much better options on a weekend night he would come over not as a guardian, but as a big brother and entertainer. He would talk to us as people, not children and delight us for hours with his impressions. My sister liked Donald Duck, my favorite was the Cowardly Lion.
Four decades later he was doing much of the same. No longer a teenager trying to find his way in the world, he was a loving father and husband. His children, barely older than their dad when I had met him, are great people in the Harmon mold; thoughtful, caring and funny. Each had their own mountains to climb, and each had two outstanding guides. Nancy and Dick were always more interested in how my life was progressing than my career. They never wanted to talk about The Golf Channel, but rather about my siblings, mother or wife. Theyre the type of parents we all aspire to be.
Harmon advice rarely comes with a single message and Dicks golf tips always seemed to carry a measure of life lesson as well. Its hard for me to think of him as a golfer or instructor because he was so much more. How important is fixing golf swings when compared to enriching lives?
For the past few summers my nephews would attend his golf camp in Houston. Dick would get up early to pick the boys up. On the drive to the course he would talk to them about the important things in life, teenage guy stuff. My nephews sought a golf instructor but found a friend. On the practice tee his advice again had many meanings, Matt slow your pace, Jeff trust your swing
This fall I was walking out of the clubhouse at my home course and someone called my name from across the practice green. It was my old babysitter. We laughed and hugged and made a date for dinner. At one point during dinner the owner of the restaurant stopped by our table. Usually economical with words, within minutes Dick had him laughing and gabbing up a storm, another friendship made.
That night ended with promises of future dinners, golf games, and important talks. He even gave another bashful laugh from the Cowardly Lion.
I am richer for having known Dick, and we are all made poorer by his loss. Upon hearing the news I called his brother Billy hoping that there had been a mistake. During the conversation Billy said he was lucky to have had Dick as a brother.
We are all lucky to have had him as a friend.