In Memory

Dwight Billedeaux

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02/08/10 11:42 AM #1    

Joe White (1958)

Three reasons I ran everywhere my senior year. 1)Dad NEVER let me use the family car. 2)Mom wouldn't let me buy my own. 3)I was always in a hurry. I ran to school every morning with beaucoup books under one arm and my trumpet in the other. My route took me past Mr. Billedeaux's house. I took no class from him and chose work over football and basketball; thus we had little contact. But every morning, somewhere along the way, he drove past as I jogged. He'd smile and wave. I'd smile and--both hands full--give a nod. He began greeting me in the hallway, "G'morning, Fox." Or, "How's it going, Fox?" I was puzzled. Foxes are sleek animals. I considered myself chubby. I finally asked, "Why Fox?"
"Never seen you walk, son. Never seen a fox walk. You're both on the trot. Bet you can run all day."
I could, I knew, and I was pretty proud of the fact. Sly old Coach; he had me at Fox. I ran the mile and half-mile on the track team that year. It was a cold, wintery spring. We "snowed out" of all but three meets. Our entire track team, as I recall, consisted of Larry Stene, javelin (won State that year;) Kent Ashworth, 100 yd. dash; Mike Stoltz, high hurdles; my brother Tracy, 440 yd dash and half-mile, and me. No team bus; we just crawled in Coach's charcoal and pink '55 Chevy sedan and took off. I came to know and admire the man.
Coach said my best mile (4 min. 54 secs.) set a school record, but I didn't win a race; didn't even letter. Not enough points earned, too many cancelled meets. But I learned one of my greatest life lessons from Dwight Billedeaux. "Once you start a race, never quit. It's not about winning. Finishing--doing your very best--is the true measure of a man. Do your best, always, and you need never apologize.
Exactly twenty years later came my only reunion with Coach. I'd just finished an hour-long racquetball session. He'd just checked into the same motel and was searching for his room. Racquet still in hand, plumb worn out and headed for the shower, I met him in the hallway.
"Hi, Mr. Billedeaux!"
"How'd ya do?" he asked.
"Lost 3 games to 2," I said, "But I gave it my best."
Coach smiled and said, "Good. Never know where you might run into me, and I expect nothing less."

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