There is a special place for the oldest child of any family. The oldest is the first to experience the world and pass his lessons to younger siblings. The family remembers his trials and accomplishments and the elder recalls everything that follows in his wake.
My oldest brother John has lost his struggle for life, as his family struggles to come to terms with all that his life meant and the reasons it should end now.
He was too young and he had so much to live for. Now, we can only hold him in our memories.
He was the first to embrace the counter culture in the turbulent times of the late sixties.
He was among the first to oppose the Vietnam War when it counted most.
He refused to step forward for military induction.
In many ways, he followed his father’s footsteps. Our father always spoke out against injustice and wrong.
John was not blessed with the greatest athletic ability but he played the game – baseball, football, wrestling, golf – as it was supposed to be played. He studied the game and played with passion. He had the guts of a champion and the heart of a giant.
As the proud father of three sons, he became a coach and passed on his knowledge, his passion and his conviction of sportsmanship to them.
He viewed life in the same way that he viewed sports. He engaged it with a sense of justice, fair play, determination, loyalty, honor and dignity that few can rival.
He made mistakes but he was determined to set them right. He did not shirk his responsibilities; he confronted them.
It is ironic that his heart should have failed him because his heart was always his greatest asset. Those he leaves behind will remember his love and determination.
As we remember him now, each in our own way, we can be sure he fought with every ounce of strength he possessed. He always did. When he let go, he did so because he knew it was time.
Goodbye, brother John, you will be missed more than you can know.