Wednesday, December 19, 2007

R.I.P. Rick Sessions

A guest-post by Jonathan Riehl.

Every once in a blue moon we are lucky enough to encounter people in our lives who seem too good to be true; a combination of kindred spirit and mentor even when there is a difference in age. I learned last week that I’d lost such a friend, Rick Sessions, who ran the Soundhaus hi-fi shop in Durham for many decades. I recall first meeting him when, as a fellow esoteric fan of audio technology, I came to him with an 8-track player for my classic car that needed some repairs; typically, Rick outdid me: He not only fixed the problem but also knew the inventor of the 8-track, and owned a copy of its predecessor: an in-dash 45rpm record player. Who knew!

Over the past five years Rick became a friend and I know his generosity was not exclusive. Almost every time I’d stop in the shop on Broad St., another customer would saunter in with a busted CD player—or a multi-thousand-dollar HD unit—and in his low-key demeanor, he treated us all the same. Rick was a throwback to a bygone age, a general store proprietor out of a John Wayne Western who treated everyone with generosity . . . but would inevitably offer up a sarcastic remark when the previous customer left the shop!

I’m certain there were many others Rick extended his expertise and friendship to, beyond myself. I met many of them. To all the Sessions family, our condolences.

I teach rhetoric at N.C. State, and in Classical terms, we emphasize "ethos," the root idea from which we get our modern idea of "ethics." Rick had it, and the Triangle community has lost not only a community legend, but a good and decent man, a man of rich ethos. Not to mention, someone who kept our turntables turning, was always ready to spin a yarn, and, not least of all, served his nation honorably in wartime, as does his son today.

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