DQ Blog

Sep 1, 2009

Shank and Larry Wartes

The football world - and life in general - is a sadder place today with the passing of Larry Wartes on Tuesday and Don Shanklin late last week.

I knew both of these men and enjoyed their company and football stories. Man, I will miss them.

Don was a star running back at Carver High, Kansas and played in the NFL. He once told me how on his recruiting trip to Kansas a guy named Gale Sayers picked him up at the airport and two hit it off right away.

The thing I always admired about Don was how he never bragged about his accomplishments to me unless I brought them up. This man was the MVP of the 1969 Orange Bowl for the Jayhawks.

Larry Wartes was one of the most positive human beings I have ever been around. "Keep it, boy. I like that writing." I must have heard that a thousand times from Larry.

Of course, he was a tremendous coach and loved the game of football. I first met him in the Hereford (one of his coaching stops was with The Herd) press box long after he had retired from coaching and immediately became a fan.

He would pace behind those sitting down. Usually, he had a cigar in his mouth. I learned a heck of a lot of football that first night. Not to mention, laughed and laughed and laughed.

My favorite Larry Wartes coaching story is the time he wanted the attention of the refs during a game. They refused to come over to the sideline to talk with him. So he did a headstand on the sideline and starting wagging his legs as a play was going on.

Shank and Larry each lost battles to cancer.

The Texas Panhandle lost two great individuals.

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