Stan more than 'Voice of the Rebels'

Stan Torgerson, who passed away last night at the age of 82, was more than the "Voice of the Rebels." While he will always be remembered for his broadcast skills and his 17 years in the Ole Miss radio booth, Stan was a multi-faceted person who had a robust appetite for life.

When I was a kid, and had very little opportunity to actually go to Ole Miss football games, one man fueled my love of the Rebels.

Every Saturday in the fall, I'd set up my baby blue Philco in my bedroom window in Byhalia, MS, adjust the antenna toward Memphis and wait for Stan Torgerson - The Voice of the Rebels - to paint a colorful picture of Ole Miss football.

His voice, to me, was Ole Miss football. I clung to every word, felt every emotion, understood the flow of the game, learned strategy, developed heroes and became a lifelong Rebel via Stan's eloquent, passionate and precise delivery.

His emotions were my emotions. His words were my Rebel Bible.

In my early teens, I thought Stan Torgerson was more important to the team's success than the coaches because he was my own personal link and I felt he was talking directly to me. I felt like an audience of one.

But as I get older and older, my memories of those days fade and my recollections of Stan, who passed away last night at the tolerable age of 82, are of a multi-faceted individual adept at much more than radio broadcasting.

When he left Ole Miss, Stan owned and operated a highly-successful radio station in Meridian. When he sold that, he ventured into writing syndicated sports columns for specialty publications such as The Ole Miss Spirit. At one time, before the internet came around and turned most of us independents into corporate sycophants, Stan wrote a weekly column for most of the SEC publications that was very well-received.

In his column, he hid his longtime love of Ole Miss because he was a pro and his duty called for him to be objective. We received a lot of criticism for running his piece at the time, but as I always told him laughingly, "I need an in-house SOB." He didn't relish that overly-descriptive "role," but he didn't shy from writing what was on his mind and no school was off-limits to something he thought was out of line, Ole Miss included.

Then just when you thought he and beloved wife Dorothy, who were rarely apart, were about to settle into an easy retirement, Stan ventured into television broadcasting for a station in Meridian.

He attacked that just as he had his radio broadcasting and writing - with energy and passion and no apologies. If he didn't believe it, he wouldn't say it, but if he believed it, you got the full measure of his opinion. That's just the way it was with Stan - not much middle ground. A thorough checker of his facts, Stan - more times than not - was on the mark with his comments.

I found out through our work together with The Spirit that Stan was a connoisseur of fine wine and had an extremely impressive wine cellar in his vacation home in Gatlinburg, TN, which he and Dorothy and their family frequented often. He told me once the serenity and beauty of that area instantly drew him there, but he needed some hustle and bustle in his life as well so he and Dorothy remained based in Meridian.

As a pup reporter just starting The Spirit in 1982, I was in the lobby of a hotel at an away game in Nashville. It was dinner time and I was waiting on a taxi to take me to some run-of-the-mill, cheap restaurant for sustenance, not flavor. I had little money and even fewer friends.

About that time, the man himself, Stan Torgerson, The Voice of the Rebels, the voice I identified Ole Miss football with, came through an elevator door - bigger than life, figuratively and literally.

It was one of the rare times Dorothy wasn't with him. I didn't know he had seen me or even knew who I was. "Who are you eating with?" he directed my way. I had to look over my shoulder to make sure he was talking to me. "Nobody, just going to grab a quick bite."

"Son, quick bites are for people who don't understand the experience of quality dining," he smiled.

"No, Mr. Torgerson, quick bites for me means I basically can't afford to dine," we both laughed.

"Come with me. I'm going to take you to a place that serves the best fish and seafood in the Southeast and their wine list is superb. It's all on me," he said.

I'd like to think we became friends during that dining experience that lasted nearly three hours and consisted of the consumption of several courses of food and several bottles of fine wine. But it probably meant way more to me than it did to him.

It was almost like a rite of passage for me into the inner workings of the Ole Miss athletic department. After that night, I was more accepted and coaches, players and administrators started to understand my mission - to promote the good news of Ole Miss athletics.

Stan never would say it, and I questioned him several times on the subject through the years before just letting it drop, but I have always believed our meal was my entree to where I wanted to be - the inside of Ole Miss athletics. To this day, I know Stan said good things about me and what I was trying to do to the "right" people and helped me develop the trust I still have, need and enjoy.

Much like Johnny Vaught's passing last fall, sadness is not the major emotion I am feeling right now. Certainly, I feel deep pain for his family and loved ones, but I doubt Stan would want a lot of moping around from his "fans."

Like Vaught, Stan lived a full, happy, productive life. He lived it his way and that being the case it's hard to feel an overwhelming grief.

But I will miss him and I will not forget.

In life, "He Scored!"

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