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Author Topic: Scott Deatherage  (Read 96604 times)
SherryHall
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« Reply #135 on: January 04, 2010, 09:54:17 AM »

From Chicago Sun Times:
http://www.suntimes.com/news/washington/1971239,CST-EDT-laura04.article#

 Debate coach changed students' lives
Comments

January 4, 2010

BY LAURA WASHINGTON

They called him "The Duck." As I reeled from the shock of the untimely death of my good friend Scott Deatherage, that was the biggest surprise.

The Duck?! I had never heard that until I began reading the hundreds of e-mails, texts, and Facebook missives spreading the news that Scott was gone.

Where did such a moniker come from for this towering, focused communications Ph.D.? The big guy with the Texas drawl, who could regurgitate every argument and fact disseminated on the Sunday morning political talk shows -- then go to battle with his own razor-sharp analysis.

Was "Duck" a nod to his placid demeanor? Those sleepy, hound-dog eyes? Or the feathery wisps sprouting from his prematurely balding pate? I soon learned it was a treasured term of endearment from the beloved students of Larry Scott Deatherage, my friend and America's premier debate educator. He died of cardiac arrest on the threshold of Christmas morning. He was 47.

Before taking the helm in 2008 as executive director of the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues, Scott led Northwestern University's famed debate team to seven national championships. "The winning-est debate coach on the planet" taught, mentored and coached thousands of high school and college students, said Eric Tucker, his friend and deputy.

Scott was "at the pinnacle of his career" as a college debate coach when he left Northwestern, Tucker said. "He decided to devote his life to work with students in hard-hit schools who would not otherwise have had the opportunity to debate."

The nonprofit association promotes and organizes debate leagues at urban high schools nationwide, particularly among students from minority and low-income families. Studies show that debate is an intellectual lifeline for these youths, steeping them in core academic skills such as literacy, critical thinking, research, communication, organization and argumentation.

Debate had once been a path to success for the privileged at elite universities, those headed for law, politics and other rarefied halls of power. Scott helped change that.

Ask Tracy Carson, who grew up in Roseland and discovered debate at Morgan Park High School. She met Scott in her senior year. At first, "I was intimidated," she recalled. "Everybody called him 'The Duck.' He was really, really, really, really, tall. He was the most successful college debate coach ever."

He recruited her for a high school debate institute at Northwestern -- on full scholarship. Later, as a full-time NU student, she became one of the first African-American women to win a major college debate.

"He was so generous, so nice, so warm," Carson recalled. "Scott made you feel as if you belonged."

His best advice is with her still: "Never settle for being good, when you can be great."

Carson, 27, went on to Oxford University on a Marshall Scholarship and a doctorate in South African history. Later this month, she will dispatch to a State Department job in Namibia to work on the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Would that have been possible without Scott, I asked.

"Oh, no."

Add up all the Tracys.

During Scott's short tenure, the association built new urban debate leagues in eight cities, including Houston, Los Angeles, St. Louis and San Francisco. This year, 5,000 students will debate in 24 cities.

Scott cared a lot and worked too hard. It did him in.

Back to "The Duck." Long ago, Scott was in the middle of a debate tournament. He discovered he had misplaced a file and ran down the hall to retrieve it. Someone shouted, "he runs like a duck!" Scott turned red, pointed a finger and screamed, "Don't you ever call me that again!"

It stuck.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #136 on: January 04, 2010, 11:00:43 AM »

From John Barrett:

David, you have my thanks and great admiration too. We both know that a note like yours could have been written about geniuses, including debaters and debate coaches, other than Scott. I am hopeful that your brave, wise writing and our thinking and talking about it might really help people and maybe even prevent casualties. I know that we're all lucky to have your care.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #137 on: January 04, 2010, 05:21:07 PM »

From Michael Antonucci:

Eulogy is hard. Complicating a eulogy is really, really hard. Reductionism's the real enemy of memory, and you [David Glass] combat it gracefully.

I worked for the Duck, as a Northwestern coach and a summer instructor. We shared some foibles that made that difficult. It was also intensely rewarding and life-altering for me. It is gratifying to see him remembered as an admirable and complicated whole.
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John Bredehoft
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« Reply #138 on: January 05, 2010, 11:35:12 AM »

David, thank you for that painful and heroic posting about Scott.  As Tom Isaacson's reminiscences of Dartmouth in the 1970s and 1980s note, and as the pain I suffered when I lost a debate partner and best friend periodically reminds me, our wonderful activity attracts the brilliant, the eccentric, the driven -- and the compulsive.  Many of us share or have shared more than one of these characteristics.  Our deeper knowledge of Scott's passing does not dim his light.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #139 on: January 06, 2010, 12:30:14 AM »

From The Daily Northwestern:
http://www.dailynorthwestern.com/memory-of-nu-debate-coach-larry-scott-deatherage-honored-1.2129986

The Daily Northwestern
Memory of NU debate coach Larry Scott Deatherage honored

By Lauren Mogannam

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Published: Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Updated: Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Deatherage

Larry Scott Deatherage. Photo courtesy of the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues

Leading the Northwestern University Debate Society to an unprecedented number of national championships and working with the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues, Larry Scott Deatherage touched countless lives in his 47 years.

“He was the single most successful college debate coach in history,” said Eric Tucker, deputy director of the NAUDL.

Deatherage died Dec. 25 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital after experiencing a heart attack Dec. 22.

Deatherage's colleagues said he could bring out the best in others and push them to their full potential. Deatherage had an uncanny ability for finding and developing talent, said Barbara Reeder, administrative director of Northwestern's National High School Institute.

“He took a fabulous program and exploded it to a national-caliber program,” Reeder said. “As far as our program, he was the heart and soul.”

Deatherage was the director of the debate society from 1990 to 2008. During his 18-year career, he led NU to seven championships and had four debaters earn Top Speaker awards at the National Debate Tournament. His peers named Deatherage “Coach of the Decade” for his work in 1990s.

Bridget Brocken Smith (WCAS '93) was a member of the debate society under Deatherage and later worked with him for 10 years at NU’s National High School Institute.

“(Deatherage) knew the importance of devoting complete attention and energy to teaching,” Smith said. “He was engaging with everyone and made them feel they were making an important contribution.”

In 2008 Deatherage left his position at NU to become the executive director of the NAUDL, where he helped launch 150 new debate programs at urban schools, Tucker said.

“He brought the academic rigor and commitment to excellence that he developed at Northwestern to hard-hit urban schools around the county,” he said. “He brought that intensity to make an activity available to students who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance.”

Since his death, friends and debaters have created a Facebook group called “Honoring and Celebrating the Life of Scott Deatherage.” The group had more than 800 members Monday night. Three national debate organizations have also created forums to remember Deatherage.

“As an educator he impacted tens of thousands of young people, and the Facebook page and forums are really only a scratch on the surface of the profound and lasting difference he made,” Tucker said. “We have lost a talented champion and a committed friend.”

Deatherage is survived by his sister, Diana Baldwin, and by brothers Donald, Patrick and Michael Deatherage and William Lechner. A memorial service will take place on Jan. 30 at 2 p.m. in Alice S. Millar Chapel. In lieu of flowers, his family asked donations go either to NAUDL or to the NU Debate Society.

l-mogannam@northwestern.edu
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Julie Garcia
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« Reply #140 on: January 06, 2010, 09:05:14 AM »

John, your posting actually inspired me to register here so I could thank you.  I too was one of the naive and totally shocked ones to learn of Scott's severe alcoholism, and I have been struggling to make sense of it.  I have spent a bit of time reflecting on and deriving comfort from your sentiments, and those of others here - thank you all for sharing.  I wanted to add that for me, this new information (knowing what he accomplished in light of what he was trying to overcome) not only does not dim Scott's light, but makes it shine all the brighter.  
« Last Edit: January 06, 2010, 11:39:52 AM by Julie Garcia » Logged
SherryHall
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« Reply #141 on: January 06, 2010, 10:38:36 AM »

From Jeffrey Paul Smith:

 I met Scott in 1983 (!) when we were both young political activists, and over the years celebrated his phenomenal successes, helped with some passages, relied on his constancy, and was always awed by the clarity he could summon to analysis. His dedication in recent years to his younger debate charges was an inspiration. A great mind, a supporter, a friend.
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John Bredehoft
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« Reply #142 on: January 06, 2010, 01:58:52 PM »

Thank you, Ms. Garcia, for your note.  I debated in high school and college from 1972 through 1980, and remained active coaching, judging, and teaching institutes for several years thereafter.  In those days, alcohol was the drug of choice and omnipresent.  What we thought were harmless rites of passage and mile-markers on the road to maturity were, in reality, warning signs.  Debaters as a group are warm, witty, and convivial, even sober, and in those days when 18-year-olds could legally buy cases of bourbon (not that we did), we paid too little attention to the signs of excess.  I hope the posting by David Glass (whom I have admired since his high school days) makes a difference in at least one life.  Although I met Scott when he was in high school, our interaction recently had been limited to a handful of e-mails over the last few months.  Nevertheless, I hope that he would have been pleased at the dialogue that has been initiated.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #143 on: January 07, 2010, 10:37:52 AM »

From North by Northwestern: Letter to the Editor by LaTonya Starks

http://www.northbynorthwestern.com/2010/01/62431/letter-to-the-editor-on-scott-deatherage-passing/

 Letter   / Jan. 6, 2010 at 10:04 pm
Letter to the Editor: On Scott Deatherage passing
By Letters

Larry Scott Deatherage, known as Scott to his colleagues and peers, known as “The Duck” to his beloved debate family, passed away on Christmas morning.  The evening before he left us, he was surrounded by those he loved the most — members of his family, former debaters with whom he had become inseparable friends, and perhaps the most important of all, The Duck was enveloped by the love from kind thoughts, text messages and phone calls that poured in to his modest room in the Northwestern Memorial Intensive Care Unit from all over the world.

I was one of the blessed few on hand to witness it all — not simply the beyond-touching scene, set in a the uncommonly warm glow of the hospital room of a great man, rendered unconscious by his infirmity, but the Scott Deatherage known by so many throughout the years as an unyielding champion of knowledge, ardent lover of the art of argumentation and a gentle soul.  The Duck was an enigma — an unsolvable Rubik’s Cube only God could create.  Yet if you were fortunate enough to be allowed into his inner circle, to gain his unwavering trust, you could open up a world of mystery and take a step toward knowing the person and not just the legend.

It is incredibly easy to think of Scott Deatherage simply in terms of the success he sought and achieved on a constant basis.  With Bachelors and Master Degrees from Baylor and a PhD from Northwestern University in tow, Scott began coaching debate at Northwestern in 1986.  By 1990, he was the director of the Northwestern Debate Society, where he went on to lead teams to National Debate Tournament Championships seven times in twelve years.  For those of you who are not familiar with debate, think a college basketball program winning the NCAA Championship seven times, and doing it twice in back-to-back years of competition, in twelve years.  Think of the dedication, the long hours and the pure heart such a feat would take.  Think of all of these things, and you think of Scott Deatherage.  The competitive dominance demonstrated by The Duck and his teams led to Deatherage being voted “Coach of the Decade” in the 1990s by his peers.

Yes, The Duck’s unheard of brilliance in all things debate and the awards he garnered as a result would be the perfect fodder for a piece honoring the life of a man known and loved by many, but it would not get to the heart of the matter.  In truth, Duck was the heart and soul of Northwestern Debate.  He became a cherished mentor to many and a counselor in times of strife for nearly all who crossed his path. I first had the honor of meeting THE L. Scott Deatherage while still a sophomore in high school.  I was in the first class of the Chicago Urban Debate League, a program instituted to bring policy debate to inner-city schools, to benefit students who perhaps needed debate, and all of its many lessons, the most.  Debate was such a far-fetched idea to me at that time.  The concept seemed something reserved solely for middle-to-upper-class, and typically white, males.  Debate did not seem like an activity that could be broken into by the likes of a group of wide-eyed, unskilled teens from the South Side of Chicago.

Scott felt differently.  He was one of the original board members of the Chicago Debate Commission, the organization responsible for bringing debate to Chicago’s public schools.  He believed that debate had saved his life and that it could save the lives of many others as well.  He did not care where we were from or who we were, he just believed we could be great.

During my senior year of high school, we had the honor of having our Chicago Debate League City Championship tournament on the campus of Northwestern University.  I knew I had applied to college there and that it was the school of my dreams.  Moreover, I knew that I wanted to debate for the legendary Duck and the Northwestern Wildcats.  I vowed to do all that I could to get myself noticed, even though, I must admit, I found him to be beyond intimidating in all ways.  He cut an imposing figure, both physically and psychologically.  He towered over me, standing at about six feet and three inches.  Moreover, the stories of his ability to mold young promise into championship form preceded him.  I remember going through the whole tournament, hoping he would come and watch one of my debates, and that perhaps I could make some modicum of a good impression.  Alas, I did not see him until the final awards ceremony, where I shook nervously as he personally handed me my first place individual speaker trophy.  He shook my hand and said, “Congratulations, LaTonya.  Great tournament.”  He knew my name!  Yes, it could have been simply been because he had just read it off of a list, but I felt my foot was in the door.

Not long after, I received an invitation to come watch a college debate tournament being hosted by Scott on the Northwestern Campus.  On the first day, Duck took time out of his incredibly busy schedule to ask me if I had time for a chat with him.  I somehow uttered the word, “Yes…”.  I was wrought with anxiety.  The idea that I would get a private audience with such a man amazed me.  Duck escorted me to me to an empty cafeteria in the Tech building, where he sat me down to tell me how he had watched me develop as a debater throughout the years and was happy I had decided to apply to Northwestern. He remarked that he had been standing, out of sight, outside the door of several of my debates at the Chicago Debate League City Championships and that he liked what he heard.  My heart pounded and filled with joy all at once.  Not only had I been on this man’s radar, but he was actually recruiting me to debate for one of the greatest collegiate programs in all of history.

Our conversation ended by him telling me that he truly believed that I could be great.  Great. I was sold.  I enrolled at Northwestern that fall and became the first African-American female to ever debate for four years in the history of the NU debate society.  I did this not because I particularly felt it important to seek individual success, but because Duck taught me, and those on our team, four simple principals that he called the Four Pillars:  character, commitment, teamwork and hard work.  Duck taught us to live and breathe as a team.  “When one of us wins,” he often remarked, “we all win.  When one of us loses, we all lose.”  Those words not only reverberate through the rooms of the Hardy House, our debate headquarters on the NU campus, but also are evident in the approach we take to each tournament.  We seek to be excellent in all we do.  No other school has a more dedicated network of alumni — so dedicated that on the eve of his death, calls, texts and emails poured in from literally around the globe to say “goodbye” one last time to a man who became a father figure and life changer. No other man could bring a team together with more ease, be it in life or death.

Last night, our team of Stephanie Spies and Matt Fisher won the 2009 Berkeley Debate Tournament.  Dressed in purple, a dedicated collection of past and present debaters and coaches gathered around and celebrated a not just a tournament victory but the legacy of a man.  I wept as a flood of realizations crept in — I thought to myself, we did this the right way.  We did not allow the passing of our beloved coach, mentor and best friend to stop us in our pursuit of greatness.  We came together as a team and we won, despite incredible odds.  We had every reason to give up, mourn our loss and lick our wounds.  Instead, we took the advice that Duck gave to us all when he coached at his last National Debate Tournament before retiring from Northwestern to become the Executive Director of the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues in 2008.  Scott said, “Do not try to win this one for me.  Do not think of me when you prepare for this tournament — think of yourselves.  Think of your team.”  We mourn the loss, we celebrate the legacy and we live, fight and die as a team.  In this way and many others, the legacy of L. Scott Deatherage, of our Duck, will live on forever.

We miss you and love you, Duck.  Your lessons are and always will be a part of Northwestern Debate.  Thank you.
LaTonya Starks
Northwestern University and Debate Society Class of 2004
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pcdeatherage
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« Reply #144 on: January 08, 2010, 09:27:48 PM »

I’ve always felt that one’s goal in life should not be to accumulate the most material things, the biggest car or fanciest house, or to have the most #1 trophies in the glass case down the hallway. It took a lot of years, more than I want to admit, but it finally occurred to me that success is simply to be a positive influence on another persons life. But not only that, true success would be to influence that person to be a positive influence on even another person…

Little did I know that baby brother Scott felt the same way. After reading message upon message left for him, the glowing obits and seeing the sites dedicated to him, I stand in awe of this person they call “The Duck”. And knowing to well some of the Deatherage traits, now I’m sure that for each good comment there are some out there that feel somewhat the opposite (at least a few select waiters at the Fish Market) but obviously the kid did good. Real good.

Human nature has proven time and time again how extremely difficult trying to influence a young person can be, but the amazing Mr. Deatherage, he had the key...and Lord knows the boy touched some lives. I like to think that he wielded his passion for debate like an artist’s brush, creating one masterpiece after another. He combined his photographic memory with an almost unerring logic, mixed in the determination of a Deatherage and with a liberal dose of quick thinking, sculpted winning minds in a way that Michelangelo could only paint.

Perhaps that’s a bit idealistic but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  While reading all the messages I was reminded of the final scene of the movie “The Last Samurai”. The Emperor asks, “tell me how he died”...Algren replies, “I will tell you how he lived”.

And you all have told us that Larry Scott Deatherage lived. A hero to some, to some a legend; a leader, teacher, a friend, a well respected man. We have been given a sampling of his world and it shows us a lot of the Scott we never knew. Nothing we can ever say can express how much this means to us. Thank you.

Many times over the last 30 years and especially during the ‘08 family reunion, I wondered why couldn’t it be different, why couldn’t we be a closer knit bunch, but now ironically enough I wonder, would I dare change anything. Of course, at least one thing. But very simply, David Glass has said it best and I also want to personally thank him for his message on Scott. It couldn’t have been said any better. Thank you Mr. Glass.

Life, when it comes down to it, it’s all relative, and we have no choice but to accept it -  it is what it is. In Scott’s own words, “the past is relevant only insofar as it informs the future”. It is up to us to decide what to do with that knowledge. In any case, Scott touched lives with his life. Will he touch lives with his death? Will he have guided us to a new subject and oversee spirited debates flavored instead with a espresso laden latte or Green Chai Tea?  Will Scott’s own Deatherage family become just a little closer? Apparently one of his favorite lines was “once family, always family”. Don’t know about you but it took me a long time to realize that family is the key.

Now I just gotta find the door.

With love,
patrick.

ps: I "debated" Scott once. He was about 10 and I handed him his Christmas gift. He said, “I don’t have to open it, I know what it is, it’s a such and such electronic football game.” I tried to convince him that it wasn’t and he would have to open it to find out  but of course he immediately saw right through me. About 37 seconds is all I lasted.

« Last Edit: January 08, 2010, 09:36:58 PM by pcdeatherage » Logged
SherryHall
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« Reply #145 on: January 09, 2010, 08:45:06 AM »

From Scott's Family:

Memorial Set for Legendary Coach Deatherage

Dr. L. Scott Deatherage, 47, native of Friendswood, TX, died Christmas day in Chicago. Born January 2, 1962, he was the fifth son to Robert and Evelyn (Spanihel) Deatherage. Graduating from Friendswood in 1980, he went on to receive his BBA and MA from Baylor. He found a home at Northwestern University, where he received his PhD in 1994 and was Director of the Debate Society for 18 years. During this time, his teams achieved unparalleled competitive success, and he served as a senior lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies.

Scott's name is synonymous with debate. The "winningest" coach in the history of national collegiate debate, he led the Northwestern University team to an unprecedented seven national championships in 14 years.

During his tenure, he coached four individuals to Top Speaker awards at the National Debate Tournament (NDT) and directed four winners of the NDT Copeland Award. In 2003, he was named the Pelham National Coach of the Year. In 2007, he received the George W. Ziegelmueller National Debate Tournament Coach of the Year Award. Scott became a legend in his own time. Known as "The Duck," he was voted the "Coach of the Decade" for the 1990s by his peers.

Over the years, he learned and taught the ability of debate, using the power of sharp thinking, persuasive communication, and argumentation to transform the lives of students. He wielded his passion for debate like an artist’s brush, creating one masterpiece after another, teaching and guiding his students to find their own passion. He combined his photographic memory with an almost unerring logic, mixed with the determination of a Deatherage and a liberal dose of quick thinking, to sculpt winning minds in a way that Michelangelo could only paint.

It was his destiny to join the NAUDL - the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues. His one goal in life, what little he knew he had left, was "to build debate programs in the many thousands of high schools across the United States where that opportunity has not existed for a long, long time." As executive director, in just the last two years, Scott led the NAUDL to bring urban debate to eight new cities and 150 new schools, serving over 1,500 students per year.

He is survived by his sister, Diana Baldwin, of Columbia, MO, and his brothers - Donald Deatherage and wife Rita of Waco, TX; Patrick and wife Sheila; and Michael and wife Emma Deatherage of Houston, TX; as well as William Lechner of Virgina and many nieces and nephews. Memorial services will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, January 16, 2010, at the Chapel of Sagemont Church, 11300 S. Sam Houston Parkway E., Houston, TX 77089. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations go to the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues or the Northwestern University Debate Society.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #146 on: January 16, 2010, 07:59:34 AM »

From Paul Jones:

During the 85/86 academic year, Scott shared an apartment with Mark Dyer and myself at Baylor. What an amazing guy! So thoughtful and interesting! Great sense of humor! And the only guy I knew who cleaned the house when he was bored!
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SherryHall
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« Reply #147 on: January 16, 2010, 08:00:15 AM »

From Sharon Crisp:

My cousin Scott who I saw in 2008. Such regrets that we never knew each other more. My loss..............................
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SherryHall
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« Reply #148 on: January 16, 2010, 08:01:20 AM »

From Mark Frazier:

 i have fond memories of scott during our time together at the g.r.c debate forum at baylor. a brilliant, gentle giant. may he rest in peace.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #149 on: January 18, 2010, 02:39:09 PM »

From  Julie Dumont Rabinowitz :

 I was shocked and saddened to hear about Duck's passing. We will all miss Duck, who touched so many lives. But as I read these reminisces, what shines through to all of us who coach, teach, and/or parent is that we are always a role model, and we are always touching the lives of others, often in ways we shall never know. Let us take Duck's example as a reminder to be there for our friends, family, and students, and do what we can to make lives better.
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