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Dick Maher — this guy takes his cap off to you

By Staff | May 11, 2010

For a few guys, early mornings and afternoons aren’t going to be the same anymore.

Between 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. six to seven buddies would meet at a local bar — for a cup of coffee that is.

And, they would talk about issues of the day; local, state, national or worldwide. It didn’t matter.

After about an hour, there wasn’t a problem that went unsolved. For some, the discussion continued later in the day around 4 p.m. at Dick Maher’s “The Corner Shop.”

The problem-solving “gang” is going to have to go on without one of their own.

On Sunday, May 2, Maher passed away in his sleep at his home.

Tom Juba says the daily “coffee chats” began in the early 1990s, when he operated Hamilton’s Restaurant.

When he became old and wise enough, Tom’s son Tim, would join the group of prognosticators.

A husband, father and grandfather, Maher, to many, will be remembered as a councilman, wood crafter, teacher, athletic director, wrestling coach and “The Voice of Buc wrestling” on KBEW Radio.

There’s no doubt anyone who knew Dick has a word or two to describe him — strict; fair; a straight-talker; and common sense are just a few.

For my family and perhaps a lot of other parents and their teen-age sons, Dick was a stickler for rules — particularly one:

No one was allowed to wear a cap in school and that included any night athletic event held in the gym.

I was told it was Dick’s way of teaching kids to have respect — he was old school, you don’t wear a cap inside a building.

My son, Lee, lost a cap or two.

However, there were times he got off with just a warning.

Dick must have been in a good mood.

Most of the time he’d just grab the cap right off their head. He’d keep it and add to a collection at his athletic director’s office.

My wife and I found out about Dick’s “cap rule” when we went to see our son wrestle at Pemberton Auditorium.

After the meet, we noticed Lee wasn’t wearing his cap and asked him why not.

Mr. Maher took it away, Lee told us.

My wife convinced me that I needed to go and talk to this guy and get that cap back.

I found Dick in his office. He opened the door and I saw a collection of caps you wouldn’t believe.

When I identified myself, Dick just smiled at me and gave me that look, a stare that went right through you.

I knew he wasn’t going to change his mind.

Somehow I was able to convince my wife that Mr. Maher was just trying to teach our son to have respect.

Thank God.

I never told Leona, but I think she would have met her match in Mr. Maher.

Dick did have a softer side and a good sense of humor.

One time he left a message on my voice mail:

“Tony. Anthony. Antonio. Whatever it is you call yourself. Get back to me, pronto. I have to ask you something.”

On Monday, I called Lee and he was saddened to hear about Mr. Maher — that’s how he always referred to him.

A Georgia Bulldogs cap, recalls Lee, was the first cap Mr. Maher snatched off his head.

Now, looking back, Lee understands what Mr. Maher was trying to do.

He really liked and cared for kids, Lee says.

Current activities director, Rob Norman, describes his mentor as a “strict teddy bear” — someone who would tell you exactly how he felt, but also had a big heart and would do anything to help you.

That was Dick Maher — a teddy bear of sorts, but yet feisty as that Georgia bulldog depicted on my son’s cap.

To this day, I wonder what ever happened to all those caps.