A chance meeting leads to a strong ‘tie.’
By Annalee Hubbs
It was Sept. 7, 2010, and several men wearing fitted black suits tucked one-of-a-kind bolo ties neatly beneath their button-down collars before lining up as honorary pallbearers for the funeral of a man who had become a constant in their lives — up until his death.
The bolo ties were gifted by this man, and the pallbearers were expected to keep them in his honor. Self-titled as the “Bolo Brigade,” the pallbearers swore a blood oath that day to wear bolo ties henceforward, and one man in particular did just that.
Chris Derry is known throughout WKU’s marketing department as the man whose daily attire is unwavering. He wears suspenders and a different bolo tie each day because to him, a promise is a promise.
On the first day of class each semester, the Barnesville, Ohio, native tells his students a story of the funeral he attended as an honorary pallbearer and how he left it a strict member of the Bolo Brigade.
That first tie Derry received from the funeral, a braided leather cord threaded through a pink agate, is the tie he wears on the first day of class. Although there wasn’t any blood involved in their blood oath, the gusto behind it was no less impactful for Derry, who thinks of his old friend, Ralph Smeed, every time he gets ready for work in the morning.
“He was an inspiration to me,” Derry said.