Rusty Haggard Blog

Allen Rickman: My Friend

Allen Mathew Rickman

August 15, 1956 – March 12, 2011

Fighting the disease of Alzheimer’s just like he fought as a Texas Longhorn defensive tackle, the man we knew and loved has finally walked off the field of life. A roar from the crowd can almost be heard for this valiant warrior. We wish he could be here one more day, for one more standing ovation for his efforts. Now gone from this life is Allen Rickman.

Allen Mathew Rickman was born in Brady, Texas, on August 15, 1956, the second son of Dorothy and Bobby Rickman. To Allen, Brady was the perfect playground for him, his brother Robert, and their cousins – a place to run and play, get in and stay out of trouble (including falling through the ceiling into the kitchen floor) and truly enjoy the wonders of nature. Later in life, his parents returned to live in Brady. Allen came to visit often, bringing friends and family to hunt, to fish, and to enjoy the wide open spaces.

Moving to San Antonio at the age of three, Allen grew up in the Alamo City. Many said his calling was baseball. At age 11, he was almost six feet tall. From the pitcher’s mound, he had a sidearm delivery that made his pitches seem to come in from somewhere around third base. Football was to be his sport, however, and he did not disappoint. Graduating from Churchill High in 1974, the 6’4”, 240 pounder was known to everyone as “Big Al.” He earned first team All State honors in football—the first Churchill Charger to earn All State in any sport. Heavily recruited by every major college in the U.S. and selected as one of the “Top 30” high school players in Texas and Arkansas by wire services, he chose to play for the University of Texas, breaking the heart of the Notre Dame recruiter who relentlessly pursued him right up to National Signing Day. True to his nature, Allen immediately went hunting after signing on the dotted line with Texas.

As a Longhorn, he not only joined his brother, who was already on the team. He also followed in his father’s footsteps. Bobby played for Texas in the late 1940s. Allen started as a sophomore, an incredible feat. Slowed by an injury early in the 1975 season, Allen overcame that and later played in the Gator Bowl, the Bluebonnet Bowl, and finally, after the Longhorns’ undefeated 1977 season, the Cotton Bowl. He rejoined his teammates at a reunion at Texas Royal-Memorial Stadium in the fall of 2007.

At UT, Allen lived in Jester, the athletic dormitory, and was said to be connected with one of the wildest things to ever take place there. It seems that a few of the players managed to get a gigantic rattlesnake into Jester (having removed the snake’s fangs beforehand), tied the varmint to a door handle and knocked. Some opened their doors, getting the scare of their lives not knowing that the rattler was without fangs. Others were on top of furniture. The following day, UT Coach Bill Ellington personally directed Allen off the practice field to “go take care of that rattlesnake problem at Jester and don’t come back until it’s taken care of.”

In 1978, Allen married his high school sweetheart, Lee Chetter. He devoted himself to her and would for the rest of their wonderful 33 years together. They were blessed with three children: Kelly, a beautiful red-head with a winning smile; Chris, a natural athlete with a laid-back nature; and Cole, who would grow in stature to match his father’s size. All that Allen did was for Lee and the kids. He was devoted to his family and they looked to him for love and guidance. The children were raised to be hard-working, responsible, and at the same time to put family first, to be fun-loving, to love team sports and, of course, to enjoy the great outdoors.

Family vacations were spent at places Allen loved. Rocky Mountain National Park was a favorite, as was Ruidoso, New Mexico, where the family had a summer home for a time. Durango, Colorado, and the Grand Canyon also were beloved retreats. Allen and Lee were involved in all the children’s school activities: football, basketball (boys and girls), baseball, soccer (again, boys and girls), band, theatre and more. Allen coached Little League baseball, went to countless UIL band competitions, and traveled as a band parent to Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Hawaii, always to support the kids’ activities.

In addition to raising the family with Lee, Allen returned to UT to pursue a degree in geology. He also worked in the stone and tile business. Quickly promoted to sales after his boss noticed his potential, his territory at one time or another covered practically the entire Lone Star State, including the Hill Country, West Texas, Dallas-Ft. Worth and Houston. With his size and a smile as big as Texas, Allen could ramble into any sales office and quickly get the attention of everyone. People realized that he was honest, hard-working, and a family man. He later helped his friends, Steve Hitzfeld and J. D. McDonald, begin Stone Solutions, where he worked until he could no longer participate in the day-to-day activities that he enjoyed so much.

In 2005, with the early onset of Alzheimer’s, Allen was up against an opponent as tough as any he had ever faced. Battling until the end, Allen died at the family home in Kyle, Texas, on Saturday, March 12, 2011.

Left to cherish his memory are his wife, Lee, daughter Kelly, son Chris and his fiancé, Amanda Simon, and son Cole. Also surviving Allen are his father, Bobby Rickman, of Brady; brother, Robert Rickman; sister-in-law, Karen Rickman; nieces Megan and Kaitlin Rickman and nephew Todd Rickman, of San Antonio; father- and mother-in-law Dick and Fran Chetter, of Canyon Lake; brother-in-law Ric Chetter, of Memphis, Tennessee; aunts Melba Hemphill and Patty Rickman, of San Antonio; and cousins Derinda Mundell, of San Antonio, and Dee Rickman, of Austin. His mother, Dorothy (Dot) Rickman, and nephew, Brady Rickman, passed away before him.

The family would like to thank, first and foremost, his mother-in-law, Fran, who spent years as caregiver and companion on a daily basis as he battled the disease. Also, Steve Hitzfeld and J. D. McDonald of Stone Solutions, who contributed so unselfishly as Alzheimer’s eroded opportunities for Allen to contribute to the job he loved. Also, good friends Cherie and Rusty Haggard, for their love, support, and friendship, especially in the final trying months, weeks, and days.  Also, John Diaz, Allen’s caregiver in his final days. Finally, to the wonderful staff of Harbor Hospice for their loving care as his life ebbed away. Those interested are encouraged to make a donation to Harbor Hospice or the charity of their choice.


22 responses

  1. David Bowe

    I love you all so much. This is a beautiful to a wonderful man.

    March 15, 2011 at 10:31 pm

  2. Karen Boardman

    I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I have prayed for your family and I am so sad to hear about Allen’s death. I pray that God has taken him to Heaven where he is waiting for eternal life to be with all of us. Can’t wait to see Allen again without the pain and suffering. He was such a wonderful person and we thought the world of him. I am praying for you and your family. I know the loss of a loved one is so hard. Let me know if there is anything that we can do for you.
    Karen Boardman

    March 15, 2011 at 11:17 pm

  3. Allen was a giant even in 7th grade. I’ll never forget when I was playing football with Allen at Eisenhower. I was a running back and Allen was playing right tackle. I barely made it to the line of scrimmage, when Allen got a hold of me and that was the end of that….

    But Allen was the most gentle and caring person of which I still have fond memories 42 years later. Blessings to all the family and know Allen was always held in the highest esteem.

    Mitchell Battros

    March 16, 2011 at 11:52 am

    • Thank you, Mitch, for your kind thoughts and memories of Allen. He was never one to talk about his playing days much, but my imagination always ran wild thinking about the power he must have had and the teammate he must’ve been. Again, thanks for sharing. Rusty

      March 21, 2011 at 4:42 pm

  4. I’m so sorry to hear of Allen’s passing, at such a young age, especially from alzheimer’s. My thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to his family and close friends. If alzheimer’s can take Allen Rickman, it can take anybody.

    I remember Allen when I first met him as a freshman football player at Churchill. Allen didn’t know me, and I’m sure would have ever remembered me. He was a junior, and already a huge standout on the varsity team, as was his brother, Robert. Both those guys were so big, strong and talented as football players, but also really, really nice guys. We all looked up to the Rickman brothers.

    Allen left a huge impression on me, the few times we talked, in the gym and on the field. He left a huge impression because he was always so nice and respectful to all of us “little guys”. I especially remember Allen, always smiling and laughing and joking around in the locker room. One day he showed us just where to hit the coke machine, in the locker room, for it to spit out a free coke! We could hardly hit it hard enough, or in the right place, so sometimes Allen came over to hit it for us.

    I’ve thought of Allen Rickman a few times over that past 35 years, and always pictured him laughing, with a big smile on his face. Allen Rickman’s short life is an example of God taking another one of his best creations away from us, and up to heaven with Him, way too soon for us to understand why.

    March 16, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    • Julio Gonzales

      Well said Greg.
      My memory was having to line up acoss from him for spring traing drills my sophmore year. Me 180 lbs all skin and bone, shaking in my clets. He just said, “take it easy”, he sensed my unease. This just showed his sensitive and caring nature. Rest of the spring I always lined up across from him.

      March 17, 2011 at 2:12 pm

      • Julio: What a great insight into Allen’s nature and his awesome size in a football uniform. I often wondered what it would be like to be in full pads and in a three-point stance looking at him prepare to take me out. I can hear him now saying, “Take it easy.” But I can also imagine the crunch when the ball is snapped. I’m sure he would help me up when the play is over. Thanks, Rusty

        March 21, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    • Greg: Thanks for your great story and your remembrances of Allen. We change, but somehow we don’t. Your recollection of Allen laughing, looking out for the “little guys,” and hitting the Coke machine just right could be something that he did for anybody in the years since you last saw him. He’d laugh about your stories too, I’m sure. Thanks, Rusty

      March 21, 2011 at 4:37 pm

  5. Debby Barnes Armstrong

    Allen was the nicest man. He used to come play football in the street in front of our house with the neighborhood guys. Years later I ran into him in Fredericksburg. Allen was still just the greatest person. Enjoyed that visit and catching up about the family he so loved! Heaven has a wonderful STAR!!!

    March 16, 2011 at 1:18 pm

  6. Dean & Connie Hanes

    Our thoughts and prayers are with the Rickman family. We are so sorry for your loss, and we are praying that your faith will give you comfort.

    March 16, 2011 at 7:55 pm

  7. Lisa Whitehead

    My sincerest condolences to the Rickman family. I had the pleasure of knowing Rick from his days at Travis Tile. My daughter and his son Cole attended and graduated high school together. I am deeply moved by this loss and I send all my love to you at this difficult time.

    March 16, 2011 at 9:30 pm

  8. Derinda Mundell

    To all the family, Allen will be missed tremendously! It was so much fun with all of us growing up together! Yes we did work in the summers @ my grandparents, but managed to somehow get into trouble too. LOL I was the one who fell thru the ceiling with Allen! He said, “sorry grandma for dropping in”! He had such a quick wit always. He was more like another brother to me than a cousin. We also burned down a pasture after cooking hot dogs in a hollow tree. oops We thought we had the fire out, but didn’t. These are some of the fun times. I will miss Allen as will everyone who met him. As they say “God only takes the best”. This is true with Allen as well. He will be missed by his family and friends though. Rest in peace Big Al!

    Love you always, Derinda Mee (as he called mee).

    March 17, 2011 at 1:38 pm

  9. jenn stivers

    I had the pleasure of taking care of Allen. He was a gentle giant that would put a smile on everyone’s face. He was friends with everyone, including family members that came to visit other residents. I loved working with Allen and getting to know Lee….what a trooper you are!!!! My thoughts and prayers are with you and the kids during this difficult time. May you always remember Allen for the man, husband, and dad that he was before this awful disease took over. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.


    March 17, 2011 at 5:33 pm

  10. Glenn Blackwood

    Allen Rickman, a man who played football but LOVED hunting. I played football with Allen at Churchill and at UT. He was a good friend. I can still picture him during conversations, blinking with that quizzical look and smile he always had. The man was a hunting machine. It is not surprising to hear of his devotion to his family. That is indigenous to the Rickman clan. He was a good man. I am sorry to hear of his passing.

    March 18, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    • Glenn: Thanks for your comments. You are absolutely right about Allen’s love for hunting. Your comments inspired me to emphasize that in the eulogy I’ll share this Thursday. His son, Chris, is an absolute double for Allen on the hunting. Thanks, Rusty

      March 21, 2011 at 4:33 pm

  11. Charlie Davis

    I was lucky enough to play along side Allen and to get a chance to go up to Brady with him and Mitch from the neighborhood. We spent most of the night driving around the pastures chasing and hunting rabbits and coyotes with my old truck. We stayed with Allen’s grandmother there in Brady and I will never forget her making us this huge breakfast and her comments on the way I was eating. She told Allen “that’s a city boy right there, cause he’s pushing his food on to his fork with a knife instead of the biscuits I made for yall”. You know ever since I have used a slice of bread or biscuits cause I wanted be just like the Rickmans. Haven’t missed to many meals since.

    March 21, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    • Great story/comment, Charlie. I met Mitch recently and will remind him of your hunt when I see him this week. I can hear Allen laughing now about what happened. Thanks, Rusty

      March 21, 2011 at 4:29 pm

  12. Tim Duncan

    I felt so inept as I ran in Allen as hard as I could during a tackling drill at practice one day. I felt as if I had run right into a brick wall even though Coach Smith yelled ” great Hit Duncan”. Allen always had something good to say any time we had conversation.

    March 21, 2011 at 4:45 pm

  13. Charlie Davis

    Rusty I felt a little overwhelmed yesterday and would like to pass several stories about Allen on to Lee and his kids. Would you mind sending me your email so that I send them to you and you can pass them on.

    Charlie Davis Cypress Tx

    March 25, 2011 at 7:47 am

  14. Greetings! I’ve been reading your web site for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Dallas Texas! Just wanted to mention keep up the excellent job!

    July 12, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    • Hey Dallas Texas! Thanks for the shout out. It’s greatly appreciated. Stay in touch!

      July 13, 2013 at 4:28 pm

  15. Kelly

    Rusty- I’m so glad this is here. Whenever I am missing my dad, I come and read this. Hard to believe that we are coming up on 4 years. I still miss him every day. I know his unconditional love is eternal and the self-confidence he instilled in me has gotten me where I am today. Thank you for being there for me and my family during that difficult time. Love- Kelly

    March 6, 2015 at 10:37 pm

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