Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Last year I blogged about a high school buddy who had been the best player on my JV basketball team. He, Phil, was the only player who eventually started on a college team.  And we had a lot of talent in our high school.  I'd written that he had passed shortly after his 60th birthday.

On that team I was the second or third leading scorer.  The year before I had also been on the team, but then I'd been the 14th man on a 15 man team. We had to be up 40 or down 40 for me to get into a game.  When I played with Phil, a fellow by the name of Fred Banta was who I had been the year before.   Way back on the bench.

The thing was that Fred was a terrific athlete.  He was a year behind me, but I'd played with him in pick up games throughout high school.  Very talented. Somehow he was way down on the bench. I think he became in his last years in high school a starter on the varsity. Regardless, more than a great athlete,  I remember Fred as a great guy, a gentleman even as a young man.  Smiling, friendly, smart, responsible and kind.  Always pleasant, considerate, and--apparently--happy.

Throughout high school he had dated the same woman, one of the cheerleaders.  I read a few years ago that they had married after college and saw some pictures from a reunion. The two of them were smiling like they had as teenagers.  Some gray around the ears, but still looking full of joy.

I received a forwarded note this evening. Fred succumbed to pancreatic cancer a few days ago.  Age 62.  I did not know Fred that well and may not have even seen him in person a single time since high school.  But I remember him well and can see that genuine smile.  I might not have said a word to Fred Banta in forty six years, but I know that this news means that there is a loss for everyone, as trite as that might sound.  Fred was a positive force in our universe.

Seize the day.

1 comment:

  1. I can relate . Maybe in your mind's eye a 17 year old with a great smile and good game died. Just as you were at 17. One of the paradoxes of aging is that old memories seem to be stored in a part of the brain that keeps them fresh with the acompanying clarity, joy, and pain.