|Community mourns loss|
|June 02, 2011 Dawn Bowen|
Randy Ray Sides
Members of the community joined the friends and family of Randy Ray Sides on Tuesday as they mourned the loss of a talented artist, writer and musician.
Sides, 39, passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, May 26, at the Morrill County Community Hospital. A funeral service was held in the morning on Tuesday, May 31, at the First Presbyterian Church in Bridgeport where Sides was a member. The church was filled to capacity with family and friends, including childhood friends who traveled home to Nebraska for the service. Burial followed at the Rose Hill Cemetery in Broadwater.
Sides was a native Nebraskan, having been born in Cozad on Jan. 18, 1972. He grew up in Bridgeport and graduated from Bridgeport High School in 1990. During high school Sides was well known for his stories and cartoons published in the school newspaper, the Bulldog Beat.
Shanda (Barker) Rummel, who was a writer for the Bulldog Beat during high school, recalled a cartoon Sides drew for her monthly article that covered the actions of the school board and was titled “Board Briefs.”
“He drew an animated board wearing bikini underwear,” she said, “which was very funny and cute, however the administration of the school didn’t find it so cute, so for the next edition he changed them to boxers.”
After high school, Sides went on to earn an Associates of Arts degree at Western Nebraska Community College.
In 2010, he returned to his love of cartooning, drawing editorial cartoons for the Gering Citizen. While some of his cartoons featured national issues, most focused on local news. Many of his early cartoons interpreted various issues related to the proposed merger of the Gering and Scottsbluff police departments. In November 2010, he drew a grateful Ed Mayo holding a hammer and the letter “r” added to his name – “Ed Mayor.” Most recently, he drew a father and son beside a World War II headstone in the cemetery, commenting on the service of both men and women during the war.
In addition to being the Citizen’s weekly cartoonist, Sides also worked as a sports reporter, covering high school sports in Bayard and Bridgeport. He covered Bridgeport and Bayard sports during the fall and winter seasons, writing stories about football, volleyball and basketball.
An article published on April 14 featured the Bridgeport Alumni Basketball Tournament, an event that Sides said he thoroughly enjoyed since it involved many of his friends. The tournament included eight teams of Bridgeport High School alumni of all ages. Sides interviewed his friend Christopher Amateis, leader of the “Old Dawgs” team, and included a photo of him with the story, saying his high school buddy would “get a kick out of being in the paper.”
Amateis, who is a farmer in the Broadwater area, helped lay his friend to rest on Tuesday, serving as an honorary pallbearer along with Sides’ brother Rick Sides, uncle Ken Fletcher and high school friends James Jay, Justin Sterkel and John Dolson.
Last year, Sides completed an exhaustive project with his childhood friends James Jay and Jeff Jay. The Jay brothers authored what is to be the first of seven books in a series – “Bible Basic Training.” Sides drew a dozen illustrations that are included at the start of each chapter of the book. He had planned to continue illustrating the Jays’ books, with the next book due to be completed next year.
Sides was also looking forward to the July 2011 release of “Life in a Day” – a documentary filmed by filmmakers all over the world that is designed to serve as a time capsule revealing everyday life on July, 24 2010. Sides’ footage of that day documented his move away from Minneapolis and the move of his uncle-in-law Kenneth Fletcher from Minneapolis to the Canary Islands.
The film was simulcast on You Tube in January by way of the Sundance Film Festival. Fletcher recalled Sides’ excitement when he learned they would be part of the film.
“He Skyped me in Lanzaorte and was so excited,” Fletcher said. “He said, ‘Unk, we made it! Just think of it, we’re a part of history now. This film will be shown a hundred years from now!”
Sides was also known for his remarkable musical talent that included original compositions for classical guitar. Two pieces, “Cool Train” and “Clean and Sober” that were written, composed and performed by Sides were played during his funeral service on Tuesday.
Sides is survived by his daughter Syrena Parks of Bayard; his parents Ron and Kathy Sides of Bridgeport; his brother and sister-in-law Rick and Maria Sides of San Diego, Calif.; grandmother Betty Sides of Bridgeport; former wife Jennifer Parks of Bayard; nephews Ronnie and Robert Sides and nieces Melinda Dickey and Elizabeth Sides, all of San Diego; numerous uncles, aunts and cousins; and many friends, including the staff of the Gering Citizen and its readers who will undoubtedly miss his clever sense of humor and common sense approach to political issues.
Read more by Dawn Bowen