To steady readers of Bea L. Hines’ long-running Miami Herald Friends and Neighbors column, her sons, Rick and Shawn, became familiar characters.
Hines, the first black woman on the newspaper’s reporting staff, has chronicled decades of community life though her family’s experiences, from school busing for desegregation when Rick was in the seventh grade to her own reminiscence earlier this summer on what would have been her 56th wedding anniversary, had her husband, who died when Rick was 4, lived.
Rick, of Miramar — full name James Fredrick Hines Jr. after his father, a Miami police officer — died of heart failure on Saturday. He was 55.
Born at the old Mount Sinai Hospital on March 7, 1958, Hines was a graduate of Carol City High School, a U.S. Army veteran, former commercial truck driver and, for the past decade, a youth pastor at Koinonia Worship Center & Village in the Broward County city of West Park.
A 6-foot-3 basketball fanatic and amateur boxer, Hines learned in his 30s that he had an enlarged heart, his mother said, but refused treatment that might have prolonged, but limited, his life.
“I’m going to keep playing basketball and trust God,’’ Bea Hines said he told her, “and the Lord gave him another 20 years.’’
Rick Hines met his wife, Debra McGirt, at Miami Dade College in 1976. Influenced by his mother’s expertise as a seamstress and a sense of style that earned him the moniker “Mr. GQ,’’ he studied fashion design.
Debra majored in physical education. Their romance blossomed on the tennis court, and they married in 1982.
Like his mother, Rick Hines was a person of deep faith. He grew up in the church and “was well versed in the Bible,’’ his wife said. But he resisted the call to the ministry for years.
“He kept running from it,’’ Debra Hines said, “but then his friends were being killed and dying, and his grandmother who he loved was so ill, that he really wanted to make a change.
“He realized that he had to stop and do what he was called to. He was a different man ever since.’’
The Rev. Dr. Walter Richardson calls Rick Hines, 10 years his junior, his “Godbrother,’’ and recalled being among the male figures who helped the fatherless boy, “fun-loving and a little mischievous,’’ grow up.
“We talked about marriage and handling struggles, financial and familial ... He wanted to make sure his grandchildren,’’ Jaylen and Travaris, “did not repeat some of the mistakes he made.’’
In his commitment to youth ministry, Hines “was in the mode of giving back,’’ Richardson said. “His mother and grandmother and great-grandmother were in the church, and people helped Bea as a single mother raise those boys, so now as an older young man, he got a chance to give more.’’
He preached for the first time in April 2005.
“Oh, Happy Day! as the old gospel song goes,’’ his pride-filled mother wrote in her column, four years after she retired as a full-time staff writer.
“That is what Easter Sunday evening was for yours truly and family when first son Minister James ‘Rick’ Hines delivered his first sermon at Koinonia Worship Center ... on a day that would have been his grandmother’s (and my mother’s) 86th birthday.
“It was a warm, wonderful occasion with family and friends coming to witness and encourage Rick.’’
The following year she held up her son as an example of what can happen when a community nurtures its youth.
“The next time I hear someone complaining about how our young black boys are going to the dumps, I will tell them about the Men of Tomorrow event I attended last Saturday, where 25 handsome, young black teenagers who had excelled in academics and community work were presented.’’
Rick, she wrote, had been one of those youngsters in 1976.
“Over the years, he had his share of ups and downs, but the seed had been planted in his mind that I, and many others who loved him, expected the best from him.’’
Rick was especially close to grandson Jaylen , 6, whose mother, Nykeva Hines, is the eldest of Rick and Debra Hines’s three daughters.
Like his grandfather, Jaylen was a little boy when his father died. “Poppa’’ Rick took him fishing and swimming, kept him on weekends, and attended all his football games.
Friday night, after one of those games, Debra Hines thought her husband seemed sluggish and unfocused. He stopped breathing during the night and died at Memorial Hospital Miramar.
She said that Jaylen told her: “I had two daddies and now both are dead. I’m gonna miss Poppa.”
In addition to his wife, mother, brother and daughter Nykeva, Rick Hines is survived by daughters LaQuonia Hines and Jamie Hines Williams.
A memorial service will be held from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday at Koinonia, 4900 W. Hallandale Beach Blvd., West Park.
After funeral at the church at 1 p.m. Saturday, Hines will be buried at the South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth.
The family suggests donations to a scholarship fund in Hines’ name, in lieu of flowers. Details of the fund will be announced.