Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Talented musicians, including Willoughby mayor, bring people together

I always knew Dave Anderson was a multi-talented guy. He does a great job as mayor of Willoughby, he’s a great musician and a great family man.
I never knew until a little over a week ago, though, how great a guitar player he really is.
I was sitting near the gazebo in front of the former Willoughby Union High School with my brother-in-law, Larry Whinnery. It was the Thursday night concert in the park, and we were listening to Dave play the guitar.
Dave said his three favorite guitar players of all-time are Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed and Tommy Emmanual. Larry nodded his approval.
I whispered that my three favorite guitar players are Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel and Mundell Lowe. But what do I know? Dave and Larry are the real guitar players.
Many years ago, Larry’s band, Three’s Company, played Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at the Beachcomber in Grand River. Dave’s band, Heads and Tails, played at the same place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Larry and my sister, Molly, moved to Nashville 33 years ago to be closer to the music business. After all, it is called “Music City.” They “come home” once or twice a year. This year, Larry especially wanted to hear Dave play solo guitar at the Thursday concert.
Seated on the stage, Dave explained how he was going to use a Chet Atkins technique. He was going to play the bass notes with his left thumb and the melody line with his left fingers.
I was waiting to hear how he could do it. Larry was captivated. “There are few, very few, guitar players who can do that,” he said.
“Can you do it?” I asked. “No, I can’t,” Larry replied.
Dave began to demonstrate the Atkins technique by playing a couple of songs. It was outstanding! I was impressed. Larry was more than impressed. He was captivated. He talked about it all night, including a couple of hours later at my brother’s birthday party at Pranzo in Downtown Willoughby.
Dave and Larry have both come a long way since those days of their flaming youth, when music was not only their passion, it was their obsession.
So I asked them a little bit about their bands. It’s not as if I hadn’t heard them play a zillion times. But some of the names escaped me.
Dave had Rudy Kastelic on organ, Mike Sulkey on drums, and (pause here for a deep breath) the lovely Kathy Williams on vocals.
As Dave has told me so many times, when she walked in to Anderson music on Vine Street to audition for the job, he took one look at her, lifted his eyes toward the sky, and said: “Please, Lord, let her be able to sing on key.”
Well, she could and she did. I have a couple of their CDs. And Heads and Tails played every bar along Route 20 from Euclid to Ashtabula and a few places farther out, including Sandusky and Warren.
I will take only a moment to tell you how much Dave has meant to Willoughby at its mayor. I do not want to make any invidious comparisons, because one of the former mayors was my closest friend.
I will say this, however, without fear of contradiction: Willoughby has never, ever, had a better mayor than Dave Anderson. Of course, I only go back to Cec Todd. But that gives you some perspective, and tells you of the high regard I have for the city’s current top administrator.
In Larry’s band, Three’s Company, Larry played guitar, Dave Temple played the keyboad, Wayne Major played bass and sang and Dave Powalski, the famed one-armed drummer, held his own on drums.
The group didn’t travel afar as did Heads and Tails, playing mostly at the aforementioned Beachcomber in Grand River, the Wine Press in Downtown Painesville and at Lake Shore Sands in Euclid.
Larry and Dave also have this in common: Both have two sons.
Dave’s two “boys,” Eric and Dan, look as if they could play defensive tackle in the National Football League. In other words, they are young giants, not to be confused with the New York Giants. I don’t know that either of them has even taken up music.
Larry’s two boys, Colin and Jason, are musicians, but for Colin it is a career, while for Jason it is merely a pastime.
Colin tours the nation with well-known country music bands. I have seen him a couple of times at the House of Blues in Cleveland.
All four of the Anderson and Whinnery lads are extremely good looking.
And fortunately for them, they have exceptional families. Donna Anderson’s father, Arnie Southall, was one of he nicest guys I ever met. Dave’s father, Earl, consistently beat me shooting pool in high school. And what can I say about Molly Whinnery? We had the same mother and father.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Getting back your TV isn't as easy as it seems

I promised myself – and especially I promised lady of the house – that I would never again become angry when I turned on a TV channel while sitting at the dining room table and no picture came on.
I railed about this subject in print a few weeks ago. I have grown accustomed to the nefarious situation by now. I realize that Time Warner was financially motivated to cut down dramatically on the number of channels that homeowners can receive unless they have digital capacity and not just analog reception.
So I decided to take action – something I often do when backed into a corner with no escape in sight.
On the TV screen it said: “Get Your TV Back.”
Below that it said: “This channel is only available in digital format. (It was available before without digital, but no more.) Order your digital adapter today. 1-855-286-1736.”
So I dialed that number. Before long a man answered. He wanted to know my area code and my phone number. I told him.
After a brief pause, he said, “Hello, Mr. CAW LINZ.
I knew immediately I was talking to someone from Bombay or possibly Rangoon.
I have nothing against people from India. I have dealt with them before on matters having to do with the computer. They are polite and very nice. But they always call me Mr. CAW LINZ. The way they pronounce my name is a dead giveaway.
I told him, in the words of Time Warner, I want my TV back. I said we have one big TV that is digital on which I can watch golf, Cubs games, the Mayor’s Report from Dave Anderson or almost anything I wish, but we have a bunch of smaller TVs all over the house and they, unfortunately, are not digital.
He told me he could send only four converters. I said that would be a good start.
“Are they easy to hook-up?” I asked.
“Oh yes, Mr. CAW LINZ,” he fibbed. “Anyone can hook them up. All you have to do is connect a wire.”
I promised I would give it a try.
If he had said, “Any idiot can hook them up,” at least I would have felt he was being more straightforward
A few days later, Dave the mailman brought a single cardboard box. It was 9 inches by 6 inches and 3 inches deep. “There can’t possibly be four converters in there,” I thought.
I was right. I dumped the contents on the dining room table. Among the tangle of plastic packages there was what appeared to be a converter box. It is tiny – 4 1/2 inches by 3 inches and an inch thick. Comparing it in size to the converter on the big set in the living room, I would guess it is – well, I can’t even guess. The big one is enormous, the new one is miniscule.
And they still owe me three more converters. But I haven’t wired the new one to the dining room TV yet.
Here is my inventory of what I found: A converter box (very small), one large white cable, one small black cable that looks like it plugs in somewhere, one much larger black cable that also looks like it plugs in somewhere, one black gadget with one end that looks like it plugs into the AC outlet on the wall, one remote control (we must have three dozen of them, maybe this one will open the garage door), two of the tiniest batteries I have ever seen, and, finally, two small Velcro pads.
There is also a book that says, “Say hello to your TV’s new best friend.”
It is a 14-page book of instructions on how to hook up my new adapter. On Page 3 there are pictures of eight things that are included in the package.
Some of the objects I couldn’t figure out included a coax cable, an HDMI (?) cable, a power cord, a receiver and the other stuff. Plus the “adhesive fasteners.”
I immediately recognized the remote control, which we call “clickers” at our house. We are constantly misplacing clickers. Thank goodness the clickers that open the garage door are set firmly in place.
The only thing I couldn’t find in the package was my IBEW card. I figured I might have to be a member of the electricians’ union to assemble the kit, but apparently that is not a requirement.
The booklet advised me: “You’re about to step up to a world of even better picture and sound, and this Easy Setup Guide is here to help every step of the way.”
“Just follow the simple installation instructions...”
If I can make it as far as the page called “Activation” I should  be all set. I figure if I can get this project set up by Labor Day, I should be able to get the other three activated by Christmas – that is, if they ever arrive in the mail.
And by the way, there is no charge for these easy-to-assemble kits. They are free until September 2015. After that they are $1.50 each.
Maybe by then I can go to Radio Shack, buy all the converter parts I need and build my own digital adapters.
That is, if I get my IBEW card by then.

To leave a comment on this column, go to JimCollinsEditorsNotebook.Blogspot.com
JCollins@News-Herald.com


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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Roger Sustar is a superb pick to the Lakeland Community College board


I’d like to underscore two starkly different ways of conducting the government’s business. Example No. 1 comes from Washington, D.C. Example No. 2 comes from Painesville, Ohio, the seat of government for Lake County.
The subject is cooperation and the ability of the two parties to get along with each other, even when there may be disagreement, because mere stubbornness and unwillingness to get along is ugly, unwholesome and totally unproductive.
Example No. 1, the Washington Way, is easily dismissed, because there is virtually no cooperation between the parties. Zero. Nada. They agree on almost nothing – unless you believe that the time to begin the cocktail hour is a vital issue facing the country. That, I am sure, they do agree on.
Now let me take you to Painesville, where an issue of some importance was resolved the other day even though it involved political disparity.
At issue was the appointment of a trustee to the board of Lakeland Community College, where the term of Ray McGuinness had expired.
Ray, who didn’t seek reappointment, was a fine and dependable trustee for many years. He was also a lifelong Democrat. The county commissioners, Dan Troy, Bob Aufuldish and Judy Moran are all Democrats.
Naturally, they would appoint a Democrat to replace Ray. There is no shortage of qualified Democrats for the position. So let’s find one, right?
But there was also a candidate who was so highly qualified that his appointment virtually cried out for consideration.
His name is Roger Sustar, and he is the CEO of Fredon Corp. in Mentor. Fredon is part and parcel of the kind of cooperation that should exist between the college and a local business.
Fredon hires exactly the kind of students who graduate from Lakeland with two-year degrees. Roger knows precisely what a technical education is all about.
Matter of fact, Roger was a Lakeland trustee several years ago, but was not reappointed when his term was up. Blame that on a previous board of commissioners.
This time the commissioners took a closer look at Roger, and especially his credentials. They found a man who, along with his wife and two children, are pillars of the community (his daughter, Alyson, is president of Fredon). Roger spends most of his waking hours thinking about manufacturing on a local as well as a global basis.
I know. I get his emails. A day does not pass that he doesn’t have something to say about manufacturing in America. He is, in a word, a promoter – a relentless promoter.
He is exactly the kind of promoter of the American Dream that can make a vital and important contribution to the college. His appointment to the board was a slam dunk, if you care to suffer yet another sports analogy that is somewhat tired from overuse.
He has been accorded a multitude of honors for his community involvement, including Distinguished Citizen awards in both Mentor and Willoughby.
If you look him up on the internet, you will find more honors and accolades than most good citizens are accorded in a dozen lifetimes.
But Roger is a Republican, and the three appointing commissioners are all Democrats. How could he possibly even be considered, let alone chosen?
But in the immortal words of the late Edward Kennedy Ellington, things ain’t what they used to be. I can remember a time when the commissioners made some abominable appointments purely on the basis of political affiliation and because of fund-raising efforts by those who sought the non-paying office.
There was a time when a good friend of mine was named to the board simply because he supplied so many baseball tickets to a commissioner.
When he was not reappointed, he called me and said, “Jim, that’s nothing but politics.” I said to him, (I won’t mention his name because he is the only trustee who had that first name), “That is exactly how you got appointed in the first place.”
I won’t say that political party affiliation will never be a consideration again when appointments are made, but in this instance I would like to thank Dan Troy for the leadership he showed and Bob Aufuldish and Judy Moran for their willingness to set politics aside and join together in making a superb appointment to the Lakeland board.
I once wrote that Dan (along with Bill Stanton and Jack Platz) were the three best county commissioners of all time.
That is still true. And Bob and Judy took a large step forward on my personal Hall of Fame list for recognizing that there are considerations for appointment that outrank political affiliation.
For choosing Roger Sustar, all three commissioners get gold stars in my book.
My book may not be the most important one in the world, but it’s all mine, so I am the only one who says what goes into it.


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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Jerry Osborne built a legacy that will live on

One thing I know for sure – there will never again be anyone exactly like Jerry Osborne.

The man they called “Ace” passed away June 21 after living a remarkable life, creating a legacy which will endure for all time in the history of Mentor and Lake County.

In his 92 years, after a most humble beginning, he built one corporation after another, amassed a fortune, gave much of his wealth to charity and non-profits, raised a family rooted in devotion to him and to each other, and received a multitude of tributes the like of which I have never seen around here.

It is impossible to summarize his achievements without writing at least a volume or two.

All I can do in this meager space is to say that I knew him virtually since I was a kid, I always found him to be a remarkable person as well as a good friend, and never met anyone with his great sense of business judgment, clarity of thinking or singularity of purpose.

For more than two hours, family and friends poured out their thoughts in a memorial service at Andrews Osborne Academy on June 28, that said so very much about the man who left such a large imprint on the area.

And yet, the dozen or so speakers barely scratched the surface of his unique life as they regaled the packed auditorium with anecdotes, words of remembrance and expressions of love.

His obituary in the paper was so beautifully written that I immediately guessed it was created by his youngest daughter, Jackie. I asked her at the memorial service if it was her handiwork. She gave the credit to her two daughters. Well, it’s all in the DNA.

Jerry’s empire included 19 corporations in the concrete and building supply industry. The program listed 22 organizations near and dear to his heart.

So many institutions bear the Osborne name. We already mentioned the exquisite academy on Mentor Avenue in Willoughby. If Ace hadn’t poured $12 million into the school, because of his love of education, learning and kids, today the former Andrews School would be a shopping center or a housing development.

Trust me. I was on the Andrews board of trustees when it merged with Phillips-Osborne Academy in Painesville. Without Jerry’s input, Andrews would no longer be a school.

You will also find the family’s name on the Jerome T. Osborne Sr. football stadium in Mentor, the new fitness center at Lake Erie College in Painesville, one of the buildings at Breckenridge Village in Willoughby and other facilities that do not come to mind.

It was a thrill for me to speak on the memorial program. I think it was Jackie and Rick Osborne Sr. who suggested I be included in the program. I can’t thank them enough for the honor.

One of the things I pointed out was the role of Jerry in the banking community. The award-winning Lake National Bank in Mentor is Jerry’s bank. He started it. He built it. It is an important part of his legacy.

And, as I noted in my comments, you can judge Ace by the quality of people he hired to run his endeavors.

I specifically mentioned Dick Flenner, the original president of the bank, and Andy Meinhold, the current president. They are superstars in the local banking industry.

Another example of Jerry’s skill in picking winners: As soon as Andrews Osborne Academy was created, Ace placed Chuck Roman in charge as head of school. An inspired move? Absolutely!

There are so many great stories about Jerry, but I would like to repeat one I told at the memorial service to illustrate Jerry the Common Man.

When Clodus Smith was president of Lake Erie College, he liked to pack his board of trustees with titans of industry, for example, Bob Evans – yes, the Bob Evans.

He also brought on board Jerry Osborne and Harry Figgie of the Figgie empire. If you never met Harry, he always wore a navy blue suit, a starched white shirt and a power necktie.

When Clodus introduced them, Jerry was wearing blue jeans and a flannel shirt, which was his customary attire. As they shook hands, Jerry said, “We have something in common.”

“And what’s that?” Harry asked, looking Jerry over and not being able to think of anything at the moment that they had in common. Jerry responded: “Neither of us can get into Kirtland Country Club.”

I’m sure Jerry had a twinkle in his eye. I doubt if Harry did.






Thursday, June 26, 2014

Analog customers losing out in a digital world

At what point does anger turn into frustration?

I’m beginning to find that out as I learn more and more about the cavalier manner in which Time Warner
 Cable is treating some of its customers.

The customers who have digital reception on their TV sets won’t know what I’m talking about. But those who are trapped in analog reception, ah, those are the folks who are being left behind.

Let me explain, or at least try to explain.

If your TV has a converter, you are receiving all the channels you thought you would be getting when you signed up for the service. But if you don’t have a converter, well, you are getting the short end of the stick.

We have one large set in the living room that is equipped to receive everything. But there are smaller sets around the house – in the dining room and bedrooms, for example – that are able to receive only those channels that TWC wants them to receive.

And TWC has blanked out a lot of channels – an awful lot.

I first noticed the phenomenon a couple of weeks ago when I tried to get the Golf Channel in the dining room. Nothing.

But I then noticed that more and more channels had become blank or carried a message saying you could sign up “to get your channel back” with a higher-priced service.

Don’t ask me to explain the difference between digital and analog.

I am not an engineer, I am a typist. But I do know that digital is better.

I noticed something else that bothered me from a personal standpoint. It has to with political interviews I will be doing in the TV studio at Lakeland Community College in the fall with one of The News-Herald editors as my co-host.

We have been doing these interviews in sort of a “Meet the Press” format since 1982. They are not broadcast live. They are taped for later showing on the Lakeland Cable Channel. The tapes are also copied and sent to smaller cable companies in the Northeast Ohio area which may wish to share them with their viewers.

Where I live, in Willoughby, the Lakeland channel is 95. Except it is blank now – unless you watch it in the living room, which has digital reception.

I have been in the habit for years of checking Channel 95 on the dining room TV just to see what was showing. Sometimes it has been an old movie, sometimes a debate on ethics staged by some Washington heavyweights, and quite often it was one of the hour-long interviews I conducted with a cross-section of the area’s leading business men and women.

I would turn on the TV and there I would be, with Tony Ocepek, or Jimmy Zampini, or Bill Sanford, or the Dick Muny family, or any of 15 similar interviews I did over the years.

Not any longer. Oh, I could go into the living room to check out the channel, but usually I don’t bother.

So in the dining room I have no Golf Channel and no Lakeland Channel.

I talked with Phil Boyle at the Lakeland Channel because we are going to be spending a lot of time and effort recording political interviews in late August, and the only folks able to watch them will be customers with digital service.

If you are an analog person, that’s your tough luck.

Phil noted that he and his colleagues have been in contact with TWC but so far have received no encouragement about change.

He showed me a letter from TWC listing the channels it has reduced to digital only in just the Mentor area.

They include 12, 20, 21, 22, 95 and 96. They are all government access, community service-type channels.

Others that are gone, unless you have digital service, include 15 (WGN Chicago), 16 (CSPAN) and others too numerous to mention.

TWC said in its letter you can get a free digital adapter through September 2015, and after that you can order all you need for $1.50 per month.

But I would think that, in the interest of a citizenry wanting to see interviews with candidates for political office, TWC would want to place a priority on that type of programming so analog customers will not be deprived of it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Celebrating family makes Father's Day extra special

If you look up all the official holidays, there is probably one for every day in the year.

You can hardly think of anything that ever happened that doesn’t have a holiday to mark the occasion.

Some special days, solemn and otherwise, are commemorated by weeks, and even months, to celebrate them and remind us of their importance.

I am thinking, for example, of National Pickle Week. You may be thinking of something else. I don’t blame you. I wasn’t even thinking of it myself until it popped into my mind less that a minute ago.

We have just celebrated many wonderful holidays, and we have many more coming up over the summer. But one of the most significant days of all – right up there alongside Mother’s Day and Sweetest Day – is one that brings tears of joy to my eyes.

And no, I don’t have any allergies. They are real tears. I am talking about Father’s Day. It is a day which we mark with a breakfast gathering, exchanges of thousands of pleasantries and many hugs and kisses.

And promises to keep in touch.

I have two darling daughters, and the lady of the house tells me that I do not call them as often as I should.

She may be right, but I also insist that mothers are much more apt to keep in constant touch with their offspring than are fathers.

I plead guilty. So from now on I will reach out across the miles and call them more often. Actually, there are not that many miles to cross. My younger daughter, Kim, lives about seven houses away, and it was she who found the house of our dreams one day when she was out walking her dog and saw the “For Sale” sign.

We lived in a much more complicated house, and with only dogs and cats and no more children at home, we were looking for something on one level.

When Kim found it, we looked at it, made an offer, and within days we had called the moving van.

Thus began a two-year adventure. That was eight or nine years ago, the bottom immediately fell out of the real estate market, and for two years I owned two houses, was mowing two lawns, paying two water, gas and electric bills and having the insurance company threaten to quadruple my insurance bill because the house was not occupied.

The day our former house was sold was one of the happier occasions in my life.

My other daughter, Diane, lives farther away. She lives on a lovely street near the Willoughby cemetery. If you haven’t figured it out yet, we all live in Willoughby, within a few minutes of each other. Nobody is more than five minutes away.

That closeness is ideal for celebrating holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Halloween, and, of course, Father’s Day.

This year we held our Father’s Day breakfast at Burgers ‘n Beer in Downtown Willoughby. Now, my brother and I have breakfast there every Sunday, except when the Lions Club is holding a pancake breakfast in Willoughby Hills. All we needed at B’nB last Sunday was a larger table. It was nice having the two girls there.

They are hardly “girls” any more, however. They are both married and have families of their own. But in spite of how much Deborah Foley, the head lady at United Way, hates my use of the word “girls” when I refer to grown women, in my heart they will always be my little girls.

Kim brought her husband, Dan, and their son, Brian, to breakfast. I always remember Brian, who has grown up into a large man, as the slugging first baseman of his Little League team who, along with Tommy Foster, terrorized, the other teams – especially the pitchers.

Diane brought her husband, Lou, although none of their three kids came with them.

The kids all have very productive jobs. The two hard-working boys, Louie and Kenny, are both union laborers who work underground in Cleveland and support their families handsomely. Their daughter, Destiny, is a graduate of Lake Erie College who works in Cleveland as an editor and who once had her picture on the Jumbotron on Times Square in New York City for working a year without making an error.

Lou and Diane have four grandchildren (those would be my great-grandkids) and I don’t have space to mention them all. I have to tell you, though, that one of them, Angelina, is in the Willoughby-Eastlake program for exceptionally bright kids and was just inducted into the National Honor Society.

It’s having kids like mine that make Father’s Day worthwhile. I hope your holiday was equally as enjoyable.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Meeting with then-Col. James E. Rudder made lasting impression on this draftee

I watched the curtain go up yesterday on the greatest drama in the history of the world – the invasion of Hitler’s Europe.

With those eloquent words began one of the finest pieces of newspaper writing I have ever read. I came across the story in a book called “A Treasury of Great Reporting.” I lent the book to a friend many years ago but, unfortunately, it was never returned. You know how that goes.

That opening paragraph refers, of course, to the invasion of Normandy on D-Day, an event of June 6, 1944, which we commemorated recently as a grateful nation paid tribute to the brave Americans and their World War II allies who began the rout of the Axis forces that didn’t end until August of the following year.

D-Day may have been what Winston Churchill had in mind when, referring to Hitler as a “filthy guttersnipe and his gang of work-your-wicked-wills,” he said, “it was not the beginning, and it was not the end, but it was the beginning of the end.”

The Free World will always remember D-Day as one of the pivotal dates in history, the date on which the world gained renewed hope that we had the Axis on the run, and our troops would soon be returning to a grateful land that greeted them with ticker-tape parades, hugs and kisses, and hope for a future not punctuated by outbursts of armed conflict.

That euphoria lasted only until 1950, when we took up arms once again in our next overseas foray, the Korean War – except they refused to call it a war because, you know, we weren’t going to fight any more wars. It was, instead, the “Korean Conflict.”

Well, everybody I talked to who came back to Fort Hood, Texas, from the Far East Command said it sure looked like a war to them.

One of the most interesting people I ever met at Fort Hood was one of the greatest heroes this country has ever known. Only Audie Murphy had more medals. But Col. James E. Rudder had all the rest. He lacked only the Medal of Honor.

I may be the only person in Lake County who ever knew Rudder. I met him, and wrote about him, when I was in the Public Information Office of the 1st Armored Division at Fort Hood. Rudder was there in 1954 for summer training with his Army Reserve unit.

The timing was significant. It was the 10th anniversary of D-Day, and Collier’s Magazine (remember that?) ran a cover story about Rudder titled, “I Took My Son to Omaha Beach.”

The date on that magazine was June 11, 1954, and the cover price was 15 cents. And yes, I still have my copy of it. As you may know, I never throw anything away. (You can read the entire Collier’s article here, with color pictures.)

The significance of the role Rudder played on that historic day was that he was the first man ashore in the invasion of Europe. He was commanding officer of the Army’s 2nd Ranger Battalion, and the invasion was a treacherous and perilous undertaking.

His Army Rangers stormed the beach at Pointe du Hoc and were forced to scale 100-foot high cliffs using grappling hooks, under heavy enemy fire all the while.

The battalion’s casualty rate was more than 50 percent. Rudder, the first man up the cliff, was himself wounded twice. But they dug in and fought off the Germans for two days, successfully establishing a beachhead for the Allied forces.

It was the kind of stuff movies are made of. But this was a real life saga. And the cast of characters was not of movie elites and extras but of real people.

Rudder was one of the nicest people I have ever met – a true gentleman. He was gracious, kind and most considerate of a young draftee who, fortunately, after basic combat training, was put into a job that he knew something about.

About the time I knew him he was promoted to brigadier general in the U.S. Army Reserves. In 1957 he was promoted to major (two stars) general.

In civilian life he didn’t do too badly. In brief, in 1958 he became president of Texas A&M University, the college of you-know-who of the Cleveland Browns, and transformed it into one of the largest and greatest universities in the U.S. He was elected state land commissioner in 1956, and in 1967 was awarded the nation’s highest peacetime service award by President Lyndon Johnson.

Not bad for a high school football coach from Brady, Texas, his hometown, which he served as mayor for six years and where he and his wife, Margaret, raised three daughters and two sons.

Rudder died March 23, 1970, after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage.

Among the giants in the pantheon of American military heroes, he ranks as one of the highest.

But as I sat with him that day in his Jeep out in the wild expanses of the Fort Hood military reservation, he looked just like any of a thousand other guys in uniform that I knew.

Except he had a bearing that you couldn’t mistake. Call it “class.”