Friday, June 11, 2010

Lessons from John Wooden


Wooden and his wife, Nell, shown in 1970, were married for 53 years. Nell died in 1985, and for a time, Wooden became what he described as "bordering on" a recluse.

John Wooden's passing recently at the age of 99 has reminded the world of what a great man he truly was. Not just a great coach, winning 10 NCAA titles and never having a losing season in 29 years, but a great man. A man full of commitment and dedication, and passion.

As an indication of what a great man John Wooden was, consider this -- John's wife passed away in 1985, but every month since then, he wrote a love letter to her. For 25 years.

One of the best articles I've read about this man is here. It is amazing and inspiring, and speaks to his incredible devotion. Check out this short section from this Bill Plashke's artilce below:

"When I think today of the greatest sportsman who walked a sideline, I think, instead, of where John Wooden lay his head.

It was a tiny bed in a cluttered room in the dark Encino condo where he lived for the last three decades.

He showed it to me once, without a trace of discomfort or embarrassment, led me inside and pointed to the threadbare white bedspread, Coach still coaching.

"That's Nell," he said.

It was, indeed, a smiling picture of his beloved late wife of 53 years, propped up above the pillow where he slept.

In the space next to the pillow, where Nell used to sleep, there was another propped-up photo of her.

Below that photo, in the middle of the bed, was a bundle of carefully scripted letters, all in the same intricate handwriting.

"Fan mail?" I asked.

"You might say that," he said.

The letters had been written by Wooden to Nell.

They contained humble descriptions of his day, gentle laughs over private jokes, eternal promises of his affection.

They had been written once a month, every month, since 1985.

They had been written
after she died.

"I obviously don't have anywhere to send them," he said. "But I had to write them anyw
ay."


Thank you John Wooden for living a life of inspiration and devotion.

2 comments:

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

He has been writing a letter to her every month since she passed. AMAZING!!!

Nobel4Lit said...

Yes, I heard about the love letters... it gave me a tear. I was a Bruin, so I definitely felt the sting of his passing..