- Associated Press - Sunday, August 10, 2014

MARIETTA, Miss. (AP) - Moments don’t always seem important when they happen.

An old friend found Ray Fielder on the Internet and came from Oklahoma City to Marietta for a visit last October.

“I was tickled to death,” said Murray Reagen. “All those years go by, and I found him.”

It was a quick three-day trip with the promise of more to come.

Photographs were taken before Reagen went home, and those shots turned out to be the last ever taken of Fielder. He died Nov. 2 from a heart attack at age 72.

Helene Fielder has one of those photos in a frame in the workshop she used to share with her husband.

“Now, that’s my favorite picture,” she said. “Who would have known the picture would mean so much? It’s fuzzy. It’s not perfect. But what does that matter?”

Ray Fielder was a husband, a father and a friend. He also was an artist and a teacher, and someone who could be counted upon to deliver an honest opinion.

“At the GumTree Festival, he would come over and look at my work. He would make no bones about his comments,” said Rick Anderson, a Clinton-based artist. “He liked my drawings, I think, a lot more than my paintings. He liked my technique and the black and white.

“He would say something like, ‘This is the best piece here.’

“Then it would be another year and he would say, ‘I don’t like this as much.’

“It wasn’t a comment to take offense to. It was Ray and how he expressed himself.”

Helene Fielder met the man who would become her husband at a military base, where he was an instructor at the arts and crafts shop.

“One time, I caught him looking at me. I turned around and gave him a look, like, I caught you,” she said. “Then he gave me a lopsided grin.”

She grew to admire the man from Kirkville with a degree from Memphis Academy of Art. He knew things that she wanted to learn.

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