Saturday, February 15, 2014

Pack Up the Moon and Dismantle the Sun

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood...

My father, a Nordic force of nature in his own way, departed this earth in a flurry of snow this afternoon. And while I'm incredibly sad, I'm also immeasurably grateful. I'm grateful for the various emails that always populated my inbox, for his daily critiques of my Flickr photos (he is, after all, responsible for my shutter bugging habits, having bought me my first SLR after teaching me how to develop photos in our old darkroom); for his love of skiing and skating and all things winter, and for my first pair of skis at age 6. Is it any wonder this Tyger is a winter girl?

I already miss his wonderful advice and thoughtful replies to my family history questions. Our genealogical conversations were epic and varied and I loved every minute of them. I'll always feel a little pang of regret that I was never the all-star track athlete he'd have loved me to be--my loves were elsewhere. It probably bothers me more than it ever concerned him--he was a coach in the truest sense of the word and whatever I was involved in he was there to motivate, educate, and otherwise light the fire under my derriere. I've decided this is a very special trait to have in a parent and if you are or were lucky enough to be thus gifted, you know how much it means.

As I said to a dear friend today, the snow squalls today that ushered him out of this life were most à propos--it was as if the Norse deities were reclaiming one of their own, bringing him back to Valhalla amidst a commotion of snow.

What I will say, happily, is that nothing remained unsaid between us. He knew I felt like he'd hung the moon, just for me. Another intimate, beloved to both my father and I, commented to me that my father "loved me the way the night sky loves the stars." Who would dare ask for more?

With that said, I bid a heavy-hearted farewell to my father. Requiescat in pace, Pops. Your legacy lives on in those who loved you, the athletes that you helped guide, and in your wonderful capacity for love and laughter.

Glenn Bernhardt Amundsen, a well-respected local track coach and lifelong Rochester resident has died at the age of 78. He will be fondly remembered and much missed.

Glenn was born in Rochester on December 24, 1935, to Norma M. Evans Amundsen and Glenn O. Amundsen. He graduated from Rochester High School 1953. He attended RCC and Hamline University in St Paul, MN before joining the US Air Force and serving in Japan with the 39th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. While overseas, he competed on the Air Force track and field and football traveling teams, winning both Pacific and US Air Force titles. Returning stateside he took a job at the City of Rochester in their Engineering Office where he worked until his retirement in 1994.

Glenn enjoyed many hobbies throughout his life--pursuing each of them with his special combination of energy and devotion. As a young man he was active in the fledgling Rochester Civic Theatre and garnered praise for his portrayal of Happy Loman in Death of a Salesman and as Luther Billis, the great comic role, in South Pacific. He was also instrumental in the formation of the Rochester Track Club and the All-Comers Track Meets. He organized The Kelly Games as a benefit for Brian Kelly, a Rochester Lourdes athlete paralyzed in a diving accident. Among the notable guests for the event were Jesse Owens and Hubert H. Humphrey. 
 After his retirement, he spent much of his time painting, drawing, woodworking and woodcarving, often with the family’s beloved Golden Retrievers at his side. Recently, he devoted hours each day to designing and constructing intricate wooden boats and airplanes. Always an early adapter, Glenn loved new technology and would use it in both his artwork and his coaching.

His greatest passion, though, was reserved for his work with young track athletes in the field events of shot put and discus. For many years he volunteered to coach high-schoolers from across southeastern Minnesota; he’d gladly assist any athlete who had the drive and desire to improve their throwing technique. His innovative and motivational coaching style led to great success for his athletes. Under his thoughtful tutelage, athletes went on to the Olympic Training Camp in Colorado Springs as well as to successful college track and field careers at Purdue and Oregon among others. Over the years he coached 12 athletes to 16 Minnesota State Track and Field championships.

His decade at Stewartville High School was, perhaps, the highlight of his coaching career. The Glenn Amundsen Invitational Track Meet, held in Stewartville each year, is named in his honor. Among his great joys was seeing athletes that he’d coached become coaches for the next generation.


Sid Fernando said...

I feel like I knew your old man, MLA. And I'm happy for you that you had that type of relationship with him.

The Paper Tyger said...


Jil Nelson said...

A lovely tribute. I'm sure he would have loved it. You were both very fortunate.