Edens' passion will be missed
When this writer heard about the death of Harry Edens, there was no need to tell me what claimed his life, I knew instantly that it was a broken heart.
Yes, he was still making the rounds at all the local schools and was a fixture in the print media room inside the press box at Cameron Stadium, but for all intents and purposes, when the love of his life Ginger died back in 2006, it left a huge void that he struggled to find a way to fill.
With no family members around town, one thing that kept him going were the friendships he'd made over his 45 or so years in the Lawton community, including ours that started right after I was hired at The Lawton Constitution in early 1973.
I met Harry when I was a mere "cub" reporter and ran into him often when he was doing the radio broadcasts for Eisenhower football. We hit it off from the outset; we both loved sports and railroads, both the life-sized trains and model variety.
It didn't take me long to see that he was passionate about Ike football. Harry, long-time Constitution sports writer Gene Thrasher and this "cub" reporter often found ourselves traveling together to Norman to represent Ike and Lawton High at the Boomer Conference All-Star selection meetings.
It was Harry's role to represent Ike, while Gene and I were to voice our opinions on the LHS players. I quickly learned that Harry was very good at his job. It always seemed like it would come down to some Norman High player and an Ike player battling for the first team and when Harry failed to win those verbal battles, he took it personally.
Yes, the Ike players had a real champion in the form of Harry Edens.
But, that's just how Harry was, whenever he did something he made sure he was prepared for anything.
He spent hours learning the names of players from rival teams so he could make sure his broadcasts would be as clean and crisp as possible. Another thing I learned at an early age, Harry was not one of those radio broadcasters who bashed the officials.
He always told me that officials had the toughest job around and he just didn't think it was the job of radio broadcasters to criticize them.
And, he sure didn't think PA announcers should do anything to incite the fans or players either and that's why his tenure as the voice of Cameron Stadium stretched for 24 years; he was always well prepared and never, ever said anything derogatory about the visiting team or officials.
He arrived early each night, set up his charts and then grabbed the customary bag of roasted peanuts, always eager to share them with sports writers who rushed to the stadium right before kickoff after handling the early desk chores, unable to even stop for a hamburger en route to the stadium.
Yes, he was in his element, but all that changed when Ginger ran into health problems. That's when he decided the only thing that mattered was making her final months, weeks, days and finally hours, as comfortable as possible.
After her death in 2006, he just wasn't the same. Oh how Harry loved to visit, but without Ginger to share conversation about the local happenings, he had to make daily trips around town to try and fill the emptiness he felt in his heart.
Many times I'd stop by my wife Brigitte's tax office and find Harry visiting with all the girls; Brigitte, Hazel, Maggie, Connie, Paulette. . . and just about anyone else who came through the door.
There's no telling how many times I ran into Harry at the three city high schools. He was a weekly fixture in the football offices, visiting with the coaches on a variety of subjects.
In fact, the last time fellow sporty Blake Colston and I saw Harry was when new Ike football coach Danny Edelman made his first public appearance at the school. When we arrived well in advance of the meeting, Harry was already there, sitting all alone, waiting for that first friendly face to strike up a conversation.
As coaches and others started learning of Harry's death, they all seemed to be thinking the same thing, it's going to be a lot different without the "bearded wonder" as he was sometimes called, showing up at their offices, or on the practice field, or at the LHS gym where he was still serving as the voice of the Wolverines' basketball teams.
What I will miss the most are his phone calls and the same opening line, "Green and Gold to the Cotton Bowl" a throwback to the days when Baylor was in the old Southwestern Conference. While the Bears seldom had the honor of playing in the Dallas bowl game, he never lost out hope and in recent years when Baylor became a power, he was always willing to strike up a conversation and brag about his beloved school, even offering the young writers he saw the opportunity to touch his Baylor hat for $1.
But the main thing I will always remember was his traditional closing phrase for our conversations, one he never forgot, "give your lovely wife a big hug and kiss and tell her it's from me."
While I probably didn't honor his wishes during my younger years, I will go home tonight and do just what he always told me to do because if I ever found myself in the same situation, I just don't know what I'd do to fill that huge void that a loving spouse provides. Especially one which you've spent 40-plus years sharing so many precious moments.
Ginger may have been the educator in the family but Harry taught me a valuable lesson; treat that special person in your life well because you never know how much time you will have together.