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Letter: Myron Rokoszak

I have now had a month to think about the news of Myron Rokoszak’s passing and I still can’t quite believe it. I read the article about Dick Howe’s reminiscences of his colleague and that captures a lot of Myron, but not everything.

I’d like to add a few comments.

More than anything else, Myron was a gentleman. I’m struck — well, I laugh — at all these memories about how “gruff” he was. Really? He couldn’t have fooled anyone! As a coach and teacher, demanding? Yes! Uncompromising? Absolutely! Stern? Of course! But open, kind, compassionate, approachable, gentle, caring … are you kidding me? If anyone didn’t see that, they didn’t really know Myron Rokoszak.

He was a senior and a superstar on our high school football team. One opposing coach called him “half the line and three-quarters of the defense” when I was a sophomore JV player. One week we were practicing for a team that had another superstar — running back, slot back, wide receiver — and our coach, the late John Edgar, tapped me on the shoulder for our practice scrimmage and said, “OK, this is whatisname!” and the JV proceeded to run our upcoming opponent’s plays. And we scored five touchdowns against the varsity defense. (I scored four of them.)

Edgar was livid. Myron was beside himself. As one of the team’s captains, he approached each one of the team’s starters and made them understand that that sort of result was, well, unacceptable.

And then we beat our opponent that Saturday by a score of 45-16. I’ve always liked to think that that victory was a combination of Edgar’s charisma, Myron’s ferocious will to win, and my JV reminder that “if you let up for a single moment, you could get beat.”

I played in the fourth quarter of that game, when it was no longer in doubt, as one of the scrubs. But afterward, Myron came up to me and said, “You know, if you’d been playing for them, this game would have been a lot closer.”

I’ve achieved a lot in athletics over the years, a lot of honors, a lot of accolades, but after all these years, nothing compares to that compliment from Myron. He was a world-class athlete, and a world-class act, and I will always miss him.

GERRY BELL

Frontier High School Class of 1964

Bethel, Maine

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