All You Need Is Love: Alumnus Credits His Wife as His Muse While Releasing Album

Rick and Vickie Herron, who are 1982 graduates of Clinch Valley College (CVC), pose in front of McCraray Hall in 1981.
Rick and Vickie Herron, who are 1982 graduates of Clinch Valley College (CVC), pose in front of McCraray Hall in 1981.
Photo courtesy of Rick and Vickie Herron

For many, UVA Wise is a place where students and alumni earn an education that serves them for a lifetime. However, for UVA Wise alumni Rick and Vickie Herron, UVA Wise is the place where they found enduring love. 

Both 1982 graduates of Clinch Valley College (CVC), their story began in an empty Sunday morning cafeteria. There, Rick spotted Vickie, an exchange student from just outside of Nice, France. He invited her over to sit with him.

“We just started talking about cars, of all things. She was the only girl at the College who knew what a Lancia Stratos was,” said Rick. “From there, we hit it right off.”

Vickie originally came to the College as a part of a six-week summer exchange program, where she met Professor of French Michael “O.D.” O’Donnell. Their shared experience of the French language gave her a much-needed ease. After returning to France, she realized that she wanted to earn a degree in the United States. 

“After obtaining a diploma from the University of Nice, I felt as if earning a degree in the United States would be a perfect continuation of my studies. I returned to the College at Wise because of its affordability,” said Vickie. 

When asked to recount meeting Rick, Vickie did so bashfully.

“I found myself surrounded by immature boys. Rick was the only one, at the time, who could talk about worldly topics. Our deep conversations were a big part of what attracted me to him,” Vickie added.

The pair eventually got married at the Baptist Student Union on campus. Retired UVA Wise Baptist pastor and longtime friend of the Herrons, Jim Collie, officiated the service, with O’Donnell in attendance. 

Both Rick and Vickie credit UVA Wise’s close student-faculty connections for growing their desire to learn.

“The professors sat directly with students in the cafeteria, they knew who I was. That was the best part, for me, to be able to sit down and talk with them outside of the classroom,” said Rick. “To this day, I have a deep appreciation for the people and the area of Wise.” 

Following their graduation from the College, Rick worked at the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, and Vickie was employed at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. The couple even returned to Vickie’s hometown in France to farm on her parent’s small farm for a few months. After serving for 22 years at the World Bank, Vickie decided she needed a change and applied for a job with the Peace Corps in Los Angeles in the early 2000s.

When the two moved to California, Rick, who has played guitar and written songs for most of his life, decided to make music professionally. He immersed himself in the active California music industry, he was able to record and produce two albums and is currently working on a third. 

His first album entitled “Rock America” released in 2021. His sophomore album “Bitter Sweet” followed in mid 2023. Like many artists, Rick found himself writing about love and the human condition. He considers Vickie as his muse, especially in his second album. 

“In life you can’t wait for the right person to come along, there is no such thing. When you cross paths with someone you truly get along with, being a friend is the best thing you can decide to be. We’ve been married for over 40 years at this point, so I must have done something that worked,” Rick said with a smile. 

When asked about his musical influences, he quickly cited the British Invasion cultural phenomenon from the mid-sixties, specifically the Beatles. He also named jazz and bluegrass as important genre influences, crediting Southwest Virginia for planting some of his seeds of inspiration.

“I wanted to recreate the feelings that those artists brought with their music to the current generation,” said Rick.

Together, Rick and Vickie agreed that their journey has been great, and they have UVA Wise to thank for it. 

Both of Rick’s albums are currently available on all streaming platforms.

If any former faculty or alumni want to connect with Rick or Vickie, they can be reached at his music site