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Joking Around with Jeff

Joking Around with Jeff

One might assume that a guy who attended 12 different schools as a kid might grow up to be maybe a little unsettled. But, in Jeff Ricke’s case, that’s not the case.

Jeff is president and one of the founders of Hiday & Ricke. Born in Valdosta, he’s the oldest of four kids whose parents moved the family to towns throughout the Midwest and Northeast before settling in Florida.

Always the new kid in school, it wasn’t the nomadic lifestyle that bothered him, it was the cold. “I was the one who had to rake the leaves, shovel the snow, and scrape the ice off my dad’s car.”

Jeff was 15 when the family moved to the Sunshine State. The first Christmas morning, playing basketball in shorts and a T-shirt, he said he’s never moving back north. He does visit family there occasionally though.

He and his entire family bleed garnet and gold. “All four of my kids are rabid Seminole fans,” he said proudly, “but none went to FSU. My wife and I brainwashed them.” All but one of Jeff’s 15 nieces and nephews are Noles fans, too. He met his future wife, Barbara, there: they’d been acquaintances in college but hadn’t dated until his sister kinda sorta fixed them up behind their backs once he began law school.

Jeff has three sons and a daughter: The oldest, 32, is a dentist in Highlands, NC. His daughter, 29, practices law in Ft. Lauderdale; who, in December 2017, was expecting her and her husband’s first child (Jeff’s first grandchild). Next-oldest, 27, is a golf professional at a club in Georgia. The youngest, 23, is in dental school and lives in Bradenton.

Before seeking out the stability of building and running a growth-oriented law firm, fresh out of FSU law school, Jeff started working for the late Ed Austin, who ran the local State’s Attorney office before serving as one of Jacksonville’s best-loved mayors. Little-known fact: Austin, who had a hearing loss, wore his hearing aid on the frame of his glasses, so whenever he’d take off his glasses during a conversation, he was done listening to you but was too polite to say so.

The job offer came as a surprise—but he served for six years and became a division chief. “I tried a lot of cases, including murder,” he recalls, “kinda like the stuff you see on TV.” He was named head of the child sexual assault unit.

In 1987, with a growing family to raise, he went into private practice with Robert Hiday. A year later he and Robert Hiday formedHiday & Ricke, P.A. He’s also a member of the Florida and Jacksonville Bar Associations as well as the National Associations of Retail Collection Attorneys (NARCA) and the National Association of Subrogation Professionals (NASP).

Today, Jeff knows what he likes and what he doesn’t. In the thumbs-up column (in addition to FSU, of course): golf and reading, particularly works by Victorian era novelist Thomas Hardy. To indulge the golf habit, he and his youngest son took a trip to Scotland, visiting the legendary St. Andrews Links.

On the thumbs down side, Jeff says: “There are three things I’ve tried to like and failed miserably: art and classical music. I wish I could like those but just can’t warm up to them. I do appreciate and respect how beautiful and timeless they are.” Before I could ask about the third thing: “And wine. I try and I try, but I just don’t enjoy it.” At least he made the effort.

“But I love a good gin and a good craft beer.”

Author: Richard A. Salkin

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