We Remember In Different Ways

My wife and I went to a high school basketball game Friday night. Our daughter Katy, who I loved watching play, is a freshman at Oklahoma State now but we still enjoy supporting the Edmond Memorial Lady Bulldogs. This was a rivalry game at Edmond North and I stopped to look at the retired Oklahoma State jersey and read the plaque honoring Nate Fleming.

I didn't really know Nate, but I knew he was an Edmond kid that loved sports. Did you know he was the Jim Thorpe Award winner for top high school athlete in tennis as a senior?

He was and a very strong believer in Oklahoma State. I could relate to all of that. Later, I saw a mother and a daughter stop and read the plaque honoring Nate. I hope a lot of people do that. We all need to know Nate, know his spirit, know what he meant to friends and family.

You see as this week progresses and the Thursday approaches making it 10 years since that terrible and gut wrenching sad Saturday night when that turbo prop twin engine plane crashed on the icy Colorado tundra we need to remember.

I didn't know many of the men that we lost that night. Some I knew of and some I didn't know at all. I did know Zane Fleming, Nate's father. I saw him nearly every morning at the 7-11 we both stopped at for coffee in Edmond. He was very proud of his son, as he should be. On basketball game days there was a beam in his smile that made you smile too.

Every father can appreciate that smile and that feeling. It is pride and it is a deep seeded friendship that many fathers have through their sons. More times than not, it is built on relationship, but also a common love such as sports, music, hobbies. Many people told me you can't be best friends with your kids. I would agree, not always, but some of us have been blessed with that opportunity. Zane was one of the blessed and that is what I could see made that night so devastatingly difficult.

After that night I saw Zane at the 7-11 on many mornings and I didn't know what to say. I should have hugged him, but I wasn't sure he was a hugger. I hope my look communicated how I felt. How I related to his pain. How I wished it could go away, but knew it couldn't.

We would talk, but I will admit my weakness is not really knowing what to say in that situation. I think most of us have that weakness. My routine changed and I don't go for coffee at that 7-11 anymore. I don't know if Zane Fleming does, but I think of him everytime I pass that corner.

I think often about another father, Bill Hancock. His son, a very bright young college sports administrator as an assistant sports information director, Will Hancock, was on that plane. I had known Bill for years in the professsion. I did speak to Bill and I know what I said, what I wrote in a letter to his granddaugter and the daughter of Will and his wife, Karen, was inadequate. The letter was heartfelt, but no letter can accurately portray what a tremendous individual Will was.

We can all relate to family and friends and that is who these people were. We all remember and we all do it in different ways. I know I remember Bill Teegins, a friend and a broadcaster, in my business, that I so very much looked up too. You see, I know my weaknesses and I know that I can be abrasive.

The great thing about Bill Teegins was in a business that is often filled with jealousy and jerks there wasn't a single person Bill came in contact with that didn't like him. Bill was talented, but he was humble and he was always friendly. Even working at another station and I usually made enemies out of competition, I couldn't help but like and be friends with Teegins.

It was truly an honor for me to see someone so similar in that vein to Bill, my friend and his successor, Dave Hunziker be awarded the Bill Teegins Award for Excellence in Broadcasting. It's a whole other story but Dave was the right man at the right time to face the daunting task of following Bill Teegins to the Cowboy microphone.

My friend Joe Riddle, remembers every day and through his smile I see his pain. Joe was supposed to be on that trip and traded with Kendall Durfey. Joe probably talks about the crash more than anyone I know. I hope that is a good thing, I hope that is Joe's way of remembering, but I also hope for Joe he has peace. Joe deserves that and Kendall and Bill, his two friends on the plane, would want that for Joe. Those of us that work with him now want it for him.

Finally, one of the survivors that hurt as much as anyone, a good friend, was Steve Buzzard. It was Steve, Oklahoma State's sports information director, that faced the media that night and made the announcement at Stillwater Municipal Airport.

Steve lost two best friends, one a co-worker in Will Hancock, and the other Bill Teegins, who Steve had really pushed for the role as "Voice of the Cowboys." I saw Steve's pain every day. Steve is now out of sports and working in the OSU Foundation as a fund raiser. I don't see him as much, but I pray for him all the time because I know how that night, that event, so devastated his life.

You know they say funerals aren't for those that died, but for those that live on. That is what this week is for. Those 10 men I truly believe are all in a better place. I hope to join them someday as I'm sure do all of those friends and family they left behind.

Until then this is what we have. We have each other, we have memories, many of them unfortunately spark tears of which I've had to keep from getting into my keyboard while writing this. I wish I was better. I wish I could write words that heal wounds, but in the end all I can do, all any of us can do, is remember and console because it is Zane Fleming, Bill Hancock, Joe Riddle and Steve Buzzard, and the many more individuals these men touched, that need our love and our remembering.

We all remember in different ways.


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