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Archive for Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Frederick generous, respected

June 16, 2009

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It must seem like everyone on the Journal-World sports staff has written something about Bob Frederick since his tragic death in that bicycle accident late last week.

So if you’re weary of reading about the former Kansas University athletic director, Lawrence High teacher and basketball coach and all-around good guy, I understand.

Nevertheless, a lot has been left unsaid about the man who was known variously as Dr. Frederick, Bob and Freddy, depending on how well you knew him.

What hasn’t been written, for example, is how generous he was.

After his late mother had spent her last years at Lawrence’s Presbyterian Manor, Frederick became the titular sponsor of a golf tournament to benefit the Manor’s Good Samaritan Fund, a pool that assures residents won’t be evicted if they are no longer able to pay.

Golf tournaments are lucrative fundraisers, but the big money at the Manor tourney came from the silent auction. That was because Frederick donated tickets to the NCAA Final Four — ducats he received for serving on the NCAA Division One men’s basketball committee. Bidding for those tickets, as you can imagine, was brisk.

Something else that hasn’t been written is how painful his bad knee was. That’s the knee he injured while a KU student and the one that eventually forced him to give up running and take up bicycling.

A few years ago, after he had retired as Kansas AD, Frederick flew to Portland to watch a Kansas-Oregon men’s basketball game. I ran into him at the airport the next day.

When I arrived at the gate, he was already standing close to the front of the line — it was Southwest Airlines, and I’m sure you’re aware of their seating policies — and I wondered why. Frederick had an A boarding pass and was assured of a good seat, so he didn’t really have to stand.

Only later did I learn Frederick wanted to be one of the first on the aircraft so he could claim the window seat behind one of the exit rows because only two seats are in those rows and he could stretch his 6-foot-4 frame — and the bad knee — instead of being cramped behind another seat.

I’ve heard from a lot of people who shared Frederick memories with me, and I’ll share one of the best with you. It’s from Rod Edmiston, a Lawrence High grad who now lives in Louisville, Ky.

Edmiston recalled when Frederick was patrolling the school cafeteria to help prevent an expected food fight. Suddenly, a couple of male students threw a water balloon in one of the windows, and Frederick took out after them.

“He ran them down about a mile from LHS,” Edmiston reported. “Those guys who threw the water balloons had to be humiliated they could not outrun a teacher. At the age of 39, he put all of us students to shame with his conditioning.”

Edmiston said he wishes he could attend Wednesday afternoon’s memorial service to pay his respects to a man he has always admired.

“What an incredible person he was,” Edmiston said. “A major-college AD who still went to weekend-long Boy Scout campouts with his kids. He never let anything compromise his values and priorities.”

Comments

just_me 4 years, 10 months ago

I can't imagine you could get weary of reading good stories about Bob. They number in the thousands and are all worth hearing.

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