Remembering Stacy Revette
by John Cripps
The phrase “last of a dying breed” is quoted far too often, and may be a bit too cliché to apply to a man like Stacy Revette. However, there is a sense where I fail to come up with a more fitting starting point to describe my late, dear friend. In 2016 we indeed lost a rare individual to the modern scourge of cancer. He left behind a void in his home state of Mississippi. Things here have been out of balance for a long time, and now they are more so.
Exactly a decade before, I lost my father to his battle with cancer. He and Stacy were a lot alike. They were men...real men, not the weak, timid, unadventurous males desperately seeking to find manhood in this present world. They believed in honesty, loyalty and trust. Their word was iron and their handshake was a contract. They knew their role as protectors, and possessed both strength and courage. No one around them ever had to fear for their safety. These men also understood their role as providers. They possessed a powerful work ethic and found it a weakness when men complained about long, hard hours. They were strong-willed and many considered them “difficult.” Yet both men were always very kind to me. Perhaps you’ve seen the bumpersticker, “Real Men Love Jesus.” Well these real men were also believers in Christ. There was a day when both my dad and Stacy would have been considered “normal.” These days they are about a rare as a righteous politician.
I met Stacy in 2001. At that time I led an organization in a statewide political fight. We were setting up tables along major highways in an attempt to talk with Mississippians and obtain signatures on a referendum. As well as the canoe rental facility, Stacy owned a BP gas station on Highway 49 in Seminary. We asked his permission to set up a table on the edge of his parking lot. At first he refused and told us to set up across the street. Over the course of a couple of days, going back and forth to buy refreshments from his store, we chatted about the issues. He ended up asking us to move over to his station. This was the beginning of a long friendship as we found we had much in common.
After we achieved victory in the statewide vote, Stacy and I talked about having the victory celebration on the grounds of his Seminary Canoe Rental facility. He brought in a lowboy, we brought in a band, and a lot of new folks were introduced to the amazing canoe adventure on the Okatoma. At the time Stacy did not have a website but knew how important our organization’s site was to the victory we achieved. Since I had constructed the site, he wanted to sit down and talk about putting together something for his business. He wanted to go with a rustic design that would fit his image of what the canoe rental grounds meant to him.
Over the years, I would take my children canoeing and kayaking often. Many times it was because Stacy would call up and say, “John Cripps, I haven’t heard from you in a while, come bring the children and have a little float.” Of course, after the float, he and I would sit around and chat for hours. I don’t like crowds so I always came during the week, and since it wasn’t busy, Stacy was happy to take a break from the intense weekend activity. There was a common theme to our discussions. We were not happy with the moral decay of the modern world. We talked about the need for people to be honest and keep their word. We discussed the lack of manhood and how difficult it was to find men who were willing to work hard. We also talked a lot about Christianity. Yes, Stacy loved to talk about the Lord and his faith. None of us are perfect, and my brother had his struggles...like all of us do. The difference is he was man enough to talk about his weaknesses to me and seek my counsel. We are told confession is good for the soul, and a wise man seeks counsel. While none of us can see into a man’s heart, we can discern a lot from how a man talks and how he acts. You can refer to Stacy as a “hard” man all day long, but I’ve seen tears as he talked about his faith. These were no crocodile tears either...a real man typically masks his tears, and would never fake them.
I already mentioned he was a man of his word. All the years we did business, we never signed a contract. Instead, we shook hands. He never once failed to live up to our agreements. Every once in a while he would call me to ask if he owed me anything. I think it was an excuse to talk, but he always settled up with me as soon as I finished a job. I “retired” from web design this past December. One of the reasons I walked away from the business is the increasing difficulty in getting paid for completed work. That phrase, “last of a dying breed,” keeps ringing in my ear.
A couple of years back, Stacy and I talked about replacing the dynamic website, www.okatomacreek.com. Over time it had become outdated, and we wanted to do a complete overhaul from scratch. It was a very long process. We sat down for hours discussing the general design theme. This involved really getting to the marrow of what Seminary Canoe Rental really represented. We talked about other canoe rental companies in Mississippi and Louisiana, and the images they portrayed. Stacy did not want a modern-looking facility complete with paved parking lots and a manicured lawn. He wanted guests to experience the real outdoors. He wanted to preserve as many trees as possible, and keep the look-and-feel very rustic. He took the rustic idea as far as he could. He owned a portable saw mill, and milled his own cedar, cypress, poplar, oak and other lumber to use in the construction of the cabins. He designed and placed the cabins to maximize the “nature feel” and, whenever possible, the view of the creek.
We also discussed at length which “type of people” he hoped to attract. While some canoe rental companies set forth the image of “beer and party time,” we decided to frame the site around family fun and a return to nature. To Stacy, this is what it is all about. He wanted to emphasize adventure and experience. Most folks are caught up in the modern rat race, surrounded by asphalt and concrete. Seminary Canoe Rental offers a brief escape to take in the beauty of God’s creation. It offers a step back in time. It reminds adults of their childhood - swimming in the creek and getting sand between their toes. It gives children a new experience away from television, video games, Facebook and Snap Chat. It allows folks to breathe in country fresh air and, if you're camping, to see the stars at night. Not to mention, it is an excellent form of exercise!
Stacy was consumed with his environment. I am an early bird and I often start work as early as 5:00. One morning I sent Stacy a text (about that time) figuring he would answer later. I was a bit surprised to get a call right back from him. He was on the creek checking his trout lines. He told me it was one of his favorite things in life - to be up and on the creek to watch the sunrise. He would tell me how difficult and tiring the canoe business was. Fishing, as well as hunting, was his escape. I can't tell you how many times he called me "from the woods" - sometimes even while deer hunting. It took an act of congress to get the man to leave his property. A couple of times I invited Stacy to “get-togethers” at my farm in Stone County. He would never come. It wasn’t because he didn’t like the company – it was because he didn’t want to leave his nature paradise. He told me it took everything in the world for him to drive to Hattiesburg. He didn’t like cities and he made no secret of it. I completely understood.
The campfire photo of Stacy is from the last campfire my family and I had with him. From time to time I would get a call, “Come on up and stay a day or two. I have an empty cabin and some venison.” He loved my children. He watched them grow up over the years and always asked about them by name every time we talked on the phone. My children loved him too. I wonder how many people saw the funny side of Stacy? My kids did! Their memories of time spent of the creek will be with them for the remainder of their lives. Surely, when they have children of their own, they will bring them to experience the Okatoma as well.
Experience. Again, Stacy use to repeatedly talk about the experience – the Okatoma Adventure. He worked hard to make sure guests had a wonderful time on the creek. It wasn’t easy. Buses would break down and need fixing. Canoes would get ground down on rocky areas and need repair. Crowds would show up all at once and things would become hectic - he had to take care of everyone and get them to their adventure as quickly as possible. Not all guests respect property and there were always things to take care of in the cabins. There was also the difficulty of finding good help. All too often on a busy Saturday morning Stacy found himself having to take care of loading canoes, driving the bus and everything else because help was late, or didn’t show up at all. A few years back he called me and asked if we could have a talk. We privately met at a garage in a nearby town. He was visibly troubled, and admitted to being quite depressed. The canoe business was overwhelming him. Once more, he was seeking counsel from a brother. I’m no doctor, but I do know that anxiety is a major contributing factor to modern illnesses. A few months later he received his diagnosis. He fought hard because he wanted to live. He was not ready to leave his paradise but God had different plans. I do think he would have us all be mindful to pay attention to our stress levels, and where it can lead.
I didn’t go canoeing last year and haven’t stayed the night in two years. I believe this summer I will gather up as many of my children as possible, head up to the creek, and camp out one night. We will build a campfire in Stacy’s honor and pass the evening exchanging stories about all the good times. We’ll set out an extra chair, or better yet a log, for Stacy to be with us there in spirit.
Last of a dying breed? Yes, a bit cliché but I think I’ll stick with it since I know a lot of people, but none like Stacy Revette. See you on the other side brother....
Friends and family March 16, 2017