Ted Barcus and Stacey Ruddick have been exchanging Christmas cards for years. It started several years ago when the two met at the Delaware County Fair, though Ruddick doesn’t remember exactly when.
Ruddick is the owner and farm manager of Ruddick Stables, which train, board, and breed horses. As a licensed Standardbred trainer, she accompanies horses on the road, according to the stable’s website.
She described Ted, of Delaware, Ohio, as “simply a fan of our sport, who happens to live in the best place possible to be a fan of harness racing.”
Ruddick remembers Ted engaged her in small talk the first time they met. He talked about things like the lottery and horse names.
“He would always ask me what day my horses were racing and he remembered when he returned the next day,” she said.
She said he reminded her of Dustin Hoffman’s character from Rain Main.
“He would ask me if I knew this person or that person,” she said. “With his mind always running, he would tell me names he would use if he ever had a racehorse. Some of those were quite interesting, to say the least.”
Ruddick trained George W., who won multiple events at the Fair over the years. She said George W. was one of Ted’s favorite horses.
“I always told Ted he could come to the winner’s circle for the picture,” she said. “But he never came.”
Ted asked her if she would be interested in exchanging Christmas cards every year. The two exchanged addresses and have been sending each other cards ever since.
His card to Stacey this year had some bad news.
“This has been a bad year for me,” it said. “The first part of the year, they found cancer on my lung.”
He said the tumor was about the size of a softball and after radiation and chemotherapy, it shrank to half of that size. But, there was a 75-80 percent chance of coming back.
Doctors did a MRI a couple of months ago and found cancer in his pancreas, the note went on to explain. He said the doctors diagnosed it as stage four and he told that they gave him only a few months to live.
“It’s been nice having friends like you,” it concluded.
Ruddick says that receiving Christmas cards each years means a lot to Ted and she’s hoping that by sharing their story, it will move people to want to do the same.
“Ted Barcus worked for 20-plus years at the Ohio Department of Transportation headquarters on East William Street as a member of The Alpha Group janitorial crew,” said Tim Dodge, his former supervisor, in an email to The Gazette. “He’s a lifetime Delawarean, and known by so many. Before his forced medical retirement, he worked hard and was a super guy to have on our cleaning crew at ODOT. Ted made the other guys laugh and enjoy their work, and he called everyone his friend.”
Send cards or notes to Ted at 104 Chamberlain St., Delaware, OH 43015.