Posts Tagged ‘R.I.P.’

You Are Always in My Heart, Old Friend

April 9, 2017

My Friend Richard Kirtley
Died Yesterday, April 8, 2017.
He was 78 years old.
Rest in Peace, Dear Brother!

 

This moment of black – shall never subtract – the life glow that burns in your eyes

That broad Kirtley smile – that spreads for a mile – shall never dissolve from great size

And when we’re all done – with all of the fun – that sucks tears from laughter as cries

You’ll still be the one – getting up to go run – while the rest of us sleep, swatting flies.

____________________

Dear Readers:

Richard “Dick” Kirtley has been a close friend since our early high school days. He was a year behind me at St. Thomas, but we were both from the east end and had a lot in common. He also had played an excellent brand of football at St. Thomas as  an interior linemen back in the both ways on offense and defense days. Teammate Mike Mulvihill, one of our star running backs, likes to say that he remembers Kirtley as the guy in the line who knew how to lead block. At any rate, even though small in size, as many players were back in the day, Kirtley went to Texas A&M in 1957 to play under then head coach Bear Bryant. After Kirtley’s freshman year at A&M, however, Bryant heard the “mama call” from Alabama. That fact and the death of Dick’s own father that year induced Kirtley to transfer to UH and to play football for the Cougars.

Richard met his wonderful wife Laura at UH. A former cheerleader at UH, Laura married Richard In June 1967. As one of the wedding party members, we all had been looking forward to the Kirtley’s 50th anniversary party this summer – as well as Richard’s induction on April 29, 2017 into the St. Thomas High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

Then the stunner came late yesterday afternoon. After his normal heavy workout, Richard had come home to enjoy a nice meal with Laura. He lay down to take a nap, but never awoke. The exact cause of death is still under determination, but his family and all of his close friends – all of us – are still in shock, in spite of the fact we all know that this sort of thing can happen to any of us at any time. I will write more when I am able. I loved this man like a brother. And the loss is great for all of us who knew this great, loyal, lover-of-life family man that was 100% Richard Kirtley.

All I can offer for now is a rewinding of “The Clock of Life” and a request for your positive thoughts and/or prayers for Richard Kirtley, his wife Laura, his married daughter Kristin and His married son Ryan. And their spouses and children too.

The Pecan Park Eagle is flying at barely half mast today.

Godspeed us all!

____________________

The Clock of Life

By Robert H. Smith

The Clock of life is wound but once,

And no man has the power,

To tell just when the hands will stop,

At late or early hour.

 

To lose one’s wealth is sad indeed,

To lose one’s health is more,

To lose one’s soul is such a loss,

That no man can restore.

 

The present only is our own,

So live, love, toil with a will,

Place no faith in “Tomorrow”

For the Clock may then be still.

____________________


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

UH Icon Guy V Lewis, Rest in Peace

November 27, 2015
Guy V. Lewis UH Basketball Coach 1956-1986

Guy V. Lewis
UH Basketball Coach
1956-1986

 

It was one of those unique moments, the kind of moments that might never have happened, but once in awhile do, when we walk into the world of serendipity.

It happened prior to a day football game at old Robertson Stadium on the the UH campus during the 2009 season. I had arrived early at the stadium parking lot to meet a friend at a tailgate party and arrived first at the agreed upon meeting spot.

A small crowd of people had gathered around a man in a wheel chair as a I walked in, but I could not see the man until a couple moved quickly away and gave me a totally open view. It was the great Guy V. Lewis, the 31-season (1956-1986) head basketball coach at UH, the man who put UH and college basketball on the map with the January 20, 1968 game at the Astrodome that featured Cougar star Elvin Hayes and company against Lew Alcindor (better known later as Kareem Abdul Jabbar) and the UCLA Bruins. The game attracted over 50,ooo fans (including your truly) and played a landmark role in the uber-boost it gave to the commercialization of college basketball. UH won the big game for a first place ranking in the polls, 71-69, but UCLA would come back at season’s end to beat out the Cougars and all others for another notch on their string of national basketball championships. Coach Lewis would later add to his fame some other strong runs at the championship with a couple of guys named “Akeem” Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, plus a cast of supporting characters who are remembered best today as Phi Slama Jama.

The long retired Coach Lewis would later find induction into both the collegiate and national basketball Halls of Fame, but only after age and a major stroke had damaged his physical health to a great degree. – I was in awe of even being this close to the man, but stayed mys distance of some ten feet away, as I waited for my Cougar buddy. Coach Guy didn’t need the smothering of an even larger crowd.

All of a sudden, all the people around Coach Lewis went away. There wasn’t even a family member immediately present to help the coach as he waited patiently in his chair. I was drawn like a magnet to the coach’s side. I had known of Coach Lewis since the fall semester of my 1956 freshman year at UH. It was also his first season as the Head Coach of UH basketball, but, of course, we never spoke back then. I was just a dumb bunny freshman who wasn’t even sure I had yet attained the right to even speak to someone as important as Coach Lewis.

Prior to our 2009 chance meeting, our only previous personal contact came in the fall of 1979. Back then, I had brought Babe, the new mascot of the UH Mad Dog Defense, into the athletic department office to meet the athletic director when we simply bumped into the then still active UH Coach, heading out. “That’s quite a bulldog you’ve got there,” Lewis remarked, as he smiled and even held the door open for our entry on his hurried way out. “Thanks, Coach,” I answered, I think so too!”

Back to 2009 – I hurried to Coach Lewis’ side and almost immediately went down on one knee by his chair so we could shake hands and make eye contact. My best feeble effort to eulogize the man is to try sharing what what that very brief exchange was like. For me, it was a gift I shall treasure forever:

“Coach Lewis, my name is Bill McCurdy. I was a freshman at UH during your first season here as head coach. I’m sure you’ve heard this many times over, but I just wanted to tell you that none of us red-blooded Cougars will ever be able to thank you enough for all you’ve done for UH through basketball over the years.”

Our right hands were still grasping when I made that statement, but Coach Guy reached up with his left hand and kept the right hand shake contact in place as he pressed down upon them and spoke. “Why, thank you,” Coach said to me in a gentle smiling voice, before adding: “It means a lot to me that you feel that way because I enjoyed every minute of it – and I just did the best I could.”

A couple approached who were coming there to take Coach Lewis somewhere else. “Thank you for being the best, Coach Lewis! We will never forget you!”

The couple took over. Disengaging the wheel chair brakes and preparing to take Coach Guy elsewhere.

“Go, Coogs!” I said as Coach Lewis wheeled away.

“Go, Coogs” Coach answered as his people rolled him away down the sidewalk and into the sea of recognizing faces who each lit up as they recognized the presence of UH royalty in our midst.

Rest in Peace, Coach Guy! Cougar Nation will never forget you! – And any of us who ever got the chance to know you, even briefly – will always love you!

Here’s a link to the first early story on the career of the great Guy V. Lewis:

http://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/news/2015/11/26/128871/uh-mourns-the-loss-of-legendary-basketball-coach-guy-v-lewis/

____________________

eagle-red