They say with time things become easier to handle but I am not so sure. I have never handled the loss of my best friend John Tripp seven years ago today very well. You would think after seven years that it would be easier to accept, but its not.  He was 58 when I got the call of his passing from a heart attack. It was a call that numbed my body from head to toe. I was driving to Kansas City and don't remember much after that.

John was bigger than life. He was a husband, a father, a grandfather, intelligent, humorous, predictable at times and unpredictable at other times, very outspoken to say the least, a mentor to many, a wonderful Exchange Club member, a 1972 graduate and huge supporter of Culver-Stockton College and a big New York Yankee fan.

John came to the Midwest to go to Culver Stockton, a learning institution that he loved so much he renamed it “Harvard on the Hill.” It is a name that many still refer to Culver- Stockton as. He was good at renaming people too, including me. When we worked together at WTAD, I was the Station Manager and he was the Sales Manager. John was not particularly happy with the station’s General Manager at the time so he found a way to get his “shots” in by renaming me “The Big Dog” which infuriated the boss to say the least. It is a nickname that has stuck and many contact me by that name today which, of course, I still use on Y101.

John was a compassionate person as well, especially with the terminally ill. It was John Tripp who established the Hospice Program at Blessing Hospital. It’s a program that thousands utilized to aid the terminally ill and their families. It is a program still in use to comfort people during a difficult time.

In the Exchange Club, it was always John who was asked to perform the eulogies for club members as well as others and he did it so eloquently. When he died the Exchange Club asked me to do the eulogy for John. I didn’t know if I could get through it, but I managed, knowing full well if I broke down John would be up there looking down saying, ”Get your act together, big boy.”

I could write a thousand stories about John from broadcasting Little League baseball games to Texas golf trips. I will share just one.  After four years of flying to play golf in Texas and hearing me say to the Southwest Airlines cabin attendant that I don't care for peanuts but I would take a bag of pretzels instead, John "smuggled" onto the plane some pretzels for the flight in the 5th year and secretly gave them to the cabin attendant.

So here she came down the isle asking if I wanted peanuts.  I told her "no thank you but I will take some pretzels if you have them". At that point John blurts out for all to hear     "You know, you are a pain in the ass". Just then I looked up and here comes the cabin attendant with a 2 or 3 pound bag of pretzels and with a two-handed basketball pass she tosses the bag at me and says "Here's you damn pretzels sir!" and the whole back end of the plane broke into laughter.

Suffice to say John was all things to all people. He could make you a laugh and he could make you cry. But to me, he was my best friend. I still have his phone number in my contacts in my cell phone. I just can't find it in me to delete it and I won't. John Tripp will always be here. I just wish I could erase May 16, 2009.  “Miss ya buddy!”

More From 100.9 The Eagle, The Tri-States' Classic Rock Station