My Dear Wife Shirley (written in 2006)
I’m sure most men who stay with their wives over a period of years feel that they have the greatest companion possible. My true love, perhaps God’s greatest creation, is my wife, and I am indeed sure that no man’s wife could possibly be equal to Shirley. Yet, each to his own belief as families celebrate their anniversaries. We’ve had our 66th, and are more in love now than we were on our wedding day.
To describe Shirley is beyond any words that I could put together, but I’m convinced beyond any doubt that our Lord would place a shining crown on her head as a chosen angel for all to emulate. Yes, I truly believe she is a very special person and will be with our Lord in heaven forever. Her integrity, as well as her character, ideals, morals, or any other aspects of her person, are beyond reproach. How could I have been so lucky to have her be the mother of our four children? There are so many memories from the very beginning of our friendship to the years of courtship and then marriage. I could write endlessly in detail of those memories. We’ve had sixty-six glorious years together and pray for more to come. Our health is pretty good, especially hers, so perhaps we will be together a few more years. I thank you, dear Lord, for creating such a wonderful human being and especially for allowing me the privilege to have her as my wife.
Other Special People
Over the years there have been many men and women that I have considered as friends. Each, in some capacity and in their special way, has had an influence on my life. We all travel through our years making decisions that determine what we become, what we choose as a profession, and in general exactly which road we follow and with whom. As one takes stock of those people that make a difference, it’s easy to identify who were the most influential. If we are to be truly honest, I think nearly all of us would say that our parents top the list, simply because they were there first and foremost from the beginning of our developing years. Other than our parents, one can begin by asking, “Who, other than myself, contributed to those significant decisions?” In my case, other than my father and mother, the Methodist minister Rev. Throckmorton in Belpre, Kansas did enforce what Papa and Mother set for my path. At that time, I’m sure I had no idea what was said, except that right and wrong were made quite clear to me. Not that I always did the right thing, but at least I was well aware of my conscience and what God wanted me to be. Papa made it explicitly clear all through my growing years.
Clarence Long, the YMCA Physical Director, along with my high school football and basketball coaches, Earl Kelly and Bob Hayden, all positively impacted my life, as did my tennis coach and chemistry teacher, Max Sweet. Each of them gave me excellent guidance throughout my high school years.
Upon entering the University of Michigan, the basketball Coach Bennie Oosterbaan certainly set an example for me. It was Bennie Oosterbaan who actually recommended me to Dave Nelson, to go to coach at Hillsdale College located in Hillsdale, Michigan.
From 1946 on, coaching would be my life’s work, and Dave Nelson, a college classmate, gave me that opportunity. We became the closest of friends who would share our ideas and thoughts through all the years until Dave’s passing in the fall of 1991. I always felt that Dave’s integrity was what drew me so close to him as a friend because he never wavered regardless of pressures.
Dave was a very intelligent man, with great ability to look beyond the present. He became known as Mr. Football, as he chaired the NCAA Rules Committee for many years. Dave’s last book, “The Anatomy of the Game,” is an example of his endless research of the game of football. It included all of the rule changes from its beginning, as well as the reasoning that led to those changes. Included in his book are the central figures in the history of football. Not only did Dave devote endless hours to studying the game, but contributed to the progress as well as preservation of college football. Dave believed in amateur athletics as an integral part of the educational system. His popularity extended into the high school system, as he portrayed the integrity needed to establish a proper direction for the high school athlete. Dave’s expertise also extended into the professional ranks. He was in demand to work with the officials of the game at all levels.
It was during Dave’s tenure as Secretary of the NCAA Football Rules Committee that a separate book was issued each year that illustrated each rule using diagrams and pictures. He also made movies and tapes to give visual aid in understanding specifics of the rules. Saturday after Saturday there were unusual questions and unique situations that needed interpretations. It was Dave Nelson that administrators, coaches and sports editors would call to settle any question pertaining to the rules.
Dave was not a dictator, but a source of a wealth of football knowledge. He listened and researched before making a decision. Anyone who served on the Rules Committee could attest to his leadership and expertise. I was indeed fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve on the Rules Committee during several years that Dave was Secretary and Editor.
There were many fine young men that I had the privilege to coach. It is easy to recall many who earned my greatest respect for what they gave to the football family at the University of Maine. Most came to mean more to me than if they had only been football players who attended the University for four years and then moved on.
Early in my career at Orono, a young man by the name of Scotty Thorburn came to live with us when it was either that, or drop out of school. Scotty played football for Maine starting in 1950. He was a fine young man who became like a member of our family. The children loved him, and as a devoted Christian, he added much to the daily lives of all of us. Scotty developed Alzheimer’s disease, and it finally proved to be too much for him. We prayed for his comfort and recovery, but the Lord finally took him. It was indeed a sad day for all who knew him.
Also early in my Orono days, there was another important young man by the name of Tom Golden who badly wanted to play football at the University. Tommy had very limited resources, and was attending a prep school by working for his board and room. He had received a scholarship to attend Higgins Prep and was doing very well academically and on the field of play. In those days, there were no rules, as there are now, about a coach having athletes live with his family. They would work at odd jobs in return for their keep. Tommy came to live with us in Orono during his first two years at the University. Tom was a fine young man, a good example for our children, and we were happy to help him as he sought his education. Football was an important part of his life in those days, and he developed into an excellent college player. Shirley and I will always remember Tom for his sincerity and high level of moral character. He was also an excellent golfer and proved to be a real asset to the golf team.
One man for whom I have the greatest respect and who has been a wonderful friend for many years is Llewellyn Clark. Lew was an engineering student at the University of Maine. He later became a professor there as well as one of my assistant football coaches. He was a fine athlete and an outstanding student. Lew lost his first wife while he was a student, and he and his son Rocky came to live with us for a while. He has become a true family friend and a person I’ll always admire and respect for his friendship. Lew was always a man of great integrity and honor. He has had more than his share of life’s hardships, but has always managed to find the strength to overcome them. I think that he is the most unselfish person I’ve ever known. From 1951 to the present, we’ve been close friends who always know how deep our friendship goes. We just know, without having to say it. Lew is now married to a wonderful lady, Shirley. We enjoy so very much our summer visits at their ocean cottage on the pink granite shore at Steuben, Maine.
All of our children feel the same way about Lew and, of course, my Shirley always put Lew and Rocky at the top of her list. We’ve a special place in our hearts for Rocky Clark, as he spent time with us as a baby and later as a camper at Wavus. A true gentleman and family man, Rocky stands tall just like his Dad.
Dave Rand was another fine athlete at the University of Maine and later became an assistant coach. He has all of the characteristics our Lord could expect within one man. Dave and Julie mean a great deal to our family, and we will forever be grateful for their friendship. Dave was a good halfback in his day, and later contributed significantly to our team as an assistant coach. He not only was able to coach excellent football skills, but was a straight arrow with depth of integrity and character. It was a great combination in a coach who was in a position to influence so many young men. If ever there was a human being who has a profound faith, Dave would be that person. He never changes as he continues to maintain his effort to overlook hardship and help others. I’ll be forever grateful for having the opportunity to know Dave and Julie and their wonderful family.
Linwood Carville, or “Woody” as we all call him, is one of those rare individuals who was an outstanding student and athlete at the University of Maine. After graduation he was appointed Assistant Dean of Men, then assistant football coach, and later assumed the role of Director of Athletic Events. Over the years, I have been proud to have Woody and his wife Jean as close and very special friends.
Another friend who I consider to be a very special person was Wesley Jordan. Wes came to the University after a year at Colby College. He developed into a fine tackle for us after sitting out the transfer rule time for a year. Besides playing varsity football, Wes became interested in becoming a certified trainer. He studied hard and prior to graduation received a trainer’s diploma. His first job was at Brewer High School where he gained recognition throughout the state.
The trainer position became open at the University, and I immediately asked Wesley to accept the position with us. He said yes it would be an honor. Wesley gained national recognition for his work and became an authority on many sports medicine issues.
Over the years Wesley Jordan received many honors, but I believe Wes made his mark as a true friend to hundreds of athletes. It takes a person of special talent and character to be a college athletic trainer. Wes gave endless hours of hard work to the University. He was an unselfish person and all who knew him admired him and gave him only the highest of praise. The University shall always be a better institution as the result of Wes Jordan’s tenure on campus. Several years ago Wesley lost the battle with cancer.
There have been many people who have contributed to my life in one way or another and it would be impossible to list them all. I only hope that in some way I may have given something to them in return.
For This Book
This book, “The Kansas Kid,” was written in an effort to provide a permanent record of my life in the hope that it will be of interest to our family. It may also offer to others a few lessons that I learned along the way.
The entire project would not have been possible if not for generous help from Sandra Jean our oldest daughter and David Scott our oldest son. They not only did the difficult job of editing, but also kept me focused on my goal. In addition, both Pamela and Gary, our other two children, offered timely suggestions and words of encouragement to continue when at times I was ready to give up the whole project.
Last, but certainly not least, I thank my wonderful wife Shirley, an avid reader who provided many valuable suggestions and helped me keep all the details straight.
In closing I can only say: “Thanks for the Memories.”
Harold S. Westerman
Now, before I can actually publish this book, I’ve had to face the saddest day of my life, as my wonderful wife Shirley passed away in March 2007 from a mysterious infection that the doctors have not yet been able to identify. All of our four loving children, Sandra, Pamela, David and Gary, have shared time with me to deal with the loss of their mother. This is one memory for which I can’t say “Thanks,” except that I had her as my sweetheart and wife for seventy years.