Bill's Blog


Posted on May 17th, 2022

We met over 50 years ago, and immediately got into an argument.  He was a member of the White Station High School Debate Team.  I was a member of the Frayser High School Debate Team.  We squared off against one another in a speech tournament at old Messick High School, vigorously arguing an issue of American foreign policy.

I can’t recall who won.  I am sure my friend thought he did.  I thought I clearly won.  We probably had an argument about that right after the debate. 

For decades after that debate, my friend and I kept arguing.  We argued at more debate tournaments.  We argued at political forums as we were often involved in rival campaigns. 

After we both graduated from college and law school and became lawyers, we argued in court on behalf of our clients. 

And in recent years, we argued online in emails and chat groups. 

In the process, we did not become enemies.  To the contrary, we became close friends.  We disagreed, but we were never disagreeable. 

Despite our many disagreements on political and social issues, there were some things on which we agreed and brought us together.  Seersucker, for example.  We both loved seersucker suits, and many years ago, we teamed up with our friend Jim Eikner to create Memphis’ premier fashion event, the Seersucker Flash Mob, held each year in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel. 

We also shared a love for the Episcopal Church, and we enjoyed worshiping together particularly at the beautiful Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at All Saints Chapel in Sewanee. 

We also shared a love for civility in discussion and debate.  A few years ago, my friend and his wonderful wife hosted a “Civility Dinner”, bringing together several couples consisting of conservatives and liberals.  My wife and I attended claiming to be “raging moderates.”  This claim led to another argument, as my friend laughed and said, “Bill, you are no raging moderate, you are a bleeding heart liberal!” 

I was not offended, and we both laughed. 

We laughed a lot over the years, even when we were arguing.  On one occasion I introduced my friend to some new friends at a party, saying “He and I have been arguing with each other for over 50 years!” 

My friend immediately responded, “Yes, and Bill has always been wrong!” 

During these uncivil times, our friendship proved that people with different points of view can respect and even like each other. 

My dear friend was John Ryder, and on this past Sunday, he lost a long and courageous battle with cancer. 

I am going to miss John.  I will miss having lunch with him and arguing over the issues of our times.  I will miss having dinner with him and his beautiful wife Lain.  I will miss worshiping with him, and hiking with him in the Cumberland Mountains. 

And yes, I will miss arguing with him. 

I hope to see him in Heaven someday.  I am not sure what there will be to argue about in Heaven, but I am sure that John and I will find something. 


Brett Hughes: Bill: This is a great story. Thanks for sharing in a post. John will be sorely missed by us all. Take care, -Brett

Leave a comment

« Back