Edited 1/5/24 to add additional information on Tom Flood – thanks Ned.
I discussed in a previous post that I graduated from William Cullen McBride High School in St. Louis Missouri.
McBride was an all-boys high school run the Catholic Archdiocese; characterized as a school for “major learners”, it was a school based on preparing us – sons of the “Greatest Generation” to be, in most cases, the first of our families to attend college.
Most of us did, and as I wrote in the prior post, successful careers followed for many.
I also mentioned that there were 139 of us who graduated in May 1970 – and sadly at the time of the post (September 2021), 25 of our classmates were no longer with us.
I recall reading the final entries about them through the years on our alumni web site; it was always a time for reflection: thinking about what I was doing and where I was when their journey came to an end. I always felt a bit of sadness – whether we had been close friends or not.
Since then, five more of have died.
Two died within days of each other in the last two weeks, and it is of them I wanted to speak – if only because while I saw them frequently in the halls of McBride, I didn’t know them as well as I could have, or should have – certainly much less than others who passed.
Mike Kurtz died on December 17th from pancreatic cancer. Tom Flood died on December 23rd.
I can’t say I was friends with either of them. I recall no homeroom or classes we shared, which was often the way in which we established friendships.
My memory of them is of two quiet guys who seemed to be friendly with people they knew.
Mike and I did share tryouts for the junior varsity football team in sophomore year. While I made the team, Mike did not and in a post on our alumni web site mentioned he never forgave the coach for being one of the last cuts from the team.
Sometimes we don’t see or understand in others how much a disappointment can linger in one’s life.
After McBride, Mike went on to a career in health-care management – raising three children who followed their dad into health care with one son becoming a clinical pharmacist; one son becoming a critical care physician; and a daughter becoming a trauma nurse. How rightly proud he must have been.
Tom became as statistician at the US Census Bureau. After retirement in 2012, he moved back to the Midwest and a small farm in Robertsville, Missouri. He was a lover of horses and puppies, and had been active in Habitat for Humanity and Meals on Wheels.
Both surely left legacies by the careers of their children and their service to their communities.
Their deaths are a reminder we are all on the same pilgrim’s road, and we should take no one for granted who shares even part of our journey on that road.
I think as I’ve gotten older – particularly over the last five years with my medical history – I understand that most of what seemed important doesn’t anymore. Much of it was rather silly.
Sometime early in 2024, I may have a relatively minor procedure to deal with a heart murmur brought on by the heart attack in 2019. I know I should be fine and will discuss it at some future point – but it’s a reminder what awaits every one of us.
And maybe that’s why I’m more reflective and wanting to write about Don and Tom than I might have ordinarily been.
But, in any case, it allowed me a time to memorialize two guys who shared part of the same journey I had.
Fair winds, Mike and Tom.