Tribute by Shelby Bonnie

I have been asked by children to provide some of their thoughts.

First, they have a little secret to tell of their father. He didn’t have a hearing problem. "I love you, but I can’t hear you" It was Erskine’s ploy that he used sometimes to get you to draw closer or make you less cautious of what you said around him, so he could overhear your most private secrets and spring them on you when you least suspected.

There are so many stories that could be told of Erskine. He told stories, made up stories and created stories throughout his life. He lived life in way that we all should. He reveled in its joys, made fun of the hard times and was as good a neighbor and friend as anyone might have. He couldn’t say no which meant he was always running off to do something or help someone. He liked to fancy himself the gentleman farmer with his old green truck and short kaki pants, but we all knew he was more than this. He was a historian, conservationist, businessman, ambassador, and partner.

The proudest time for his kids was seeing him in the huntfield. There he rode and was both leader and friend to everyone. His kids would sit in the back, anonymous, and watch their father in his element, holding court as everyone listened to his every word and think, "that’s my dad."

Erskine was at his best in the hunt field.

When the day would slow, he would send back one of his lieutenants, like Jamie, Juiliet or Hillary to fetch you. "Erskine would like you to ride up front." On that trip rode forward you would try to remember all the terrible things that you had done in the past month, because Erskine had surely found them out and was about to kid you about them. There he waited with a twinkle in his eye and knowing grin of humor. Sometimes he would simply say, "please follow me". He would ride forward and jump the stonewall ahead of you and turn so he could wait and watch you jump behind him. Then he would grade you or chuckle as you did your best to clear the fence.

But the best for him always seemed towards the end of the day. As the field slimed, he would invite forward the kids on their fat ponies and horses. He was as respectful of the kids as anyone in the field, if not more so. For Erskine and these kids this sport was in its purest moment of joy that they shared together. He gave them his greatest gift of respect and welcomed them into his world and made them feel part of something special.

This is was Erskine did for all of us. He treated all people with the same respect and honor.

To us he was all of these things: friend, farmer, stockbroker, gentleman, master, red neck, race organizer and partner. But to his kids he was something more, he was their father and he did this with the same twinkle he did everything. They will miss him but know he that he is in a happy place and given that it is Thursday he has probably managed to clear at least two fields and three trails of rocks and branches, and has joined Tommy (Stokes) and Mrs. R in organizing their new pack of hounds.