Town turns out to honor “average guy”


MONTCLARION: March 16, 2012

It was the biggest memorial I’ve ever seen for an average guy. A thousand people turned out last week to remember Brad Shaw, a hills scout leader and dad who died doing what he loved — fishing.

Corpus Christi Church was packed, and so was the gym, where the Mass was telecast to an overflow crowd. When it was finished, an army of loved ones served sandwiches and drinks and kept the food coming for another three hours. Nobody wanted to leave.

How does one person make a thousand friends? I think the answer lies in the spirit that Shaw embodied. He lived as if each minute were a gift.

One of his best friends, Brad Blemker, got up and read a tribute he’d spent hours crafting. It told the beautiful story of an eagle, its feathers a brilliant white and its eyes an intense steely blue, who was sent to bring Shaw home from the banks where he’d been fishing.

“They lifted from the valley floor, slowly at first. Flying in broad corkscrew circles, they eventually gained speed and altitude as they rose into the sky. With distance, their silhouette grew more and more faint until they were just a dot in the sky. Then, the tiny speck disappeared into the light. They had left the place between heaven and earth and ascended into heaven. Brad Shaw was home.”

Ringside seat: It’s book number eight for Dave Newhouse, the longtime (and newly-retired) sports/feature columnist for the Oakland Tribune. “Before Boxing Lost Its Punch” has been a life’s work for the Montclair resident, who used to listen to boxing matches on the radio with his dad in the ’40s.

By the 1950s, boxing was a television phenomenon. “There was the Wednesday night Pabst Blue Ribbon fight on TV and the Friday night Gillette Cavalcade of Sports,” Newhouse remembers. I remember too. I would take the boxer in the white trunks and my dad would pick the fighter in the black trunks, and we’d root for our guys like we were there in the arena.

Newhouse traveled around the U.S. and to Europe to get interviews for this book. He is a master storyteller and the perfect writer to document this colorful time in history. The book is a steal on Amazon for just $1.99.

Email bag:  Speaking of good reading material, the empty nest survival guide called “Writin’ on Empty” has been nominated for a 2012 Readers’ Choice Award on About.com. Local mom and co-author Julie Renalds hopes everyone will vote before the count is tabulated on Wednesday. Log onto http://youngadults.about.com/ and click on the category of Best Survival Guide for College Parents to find “Writin’ on Empty.”

Road runners: The Oakland Running Festival is coming to a street near you on March 25. Reader Tod Vedock reminds us to be patient if we run across the 9,000 runners in the marathon. After all, the event brought in $3 million for the city last year. Routes and street closures can be found at www.oaklandmarathon.com. Shoot Tod an email at tsvedock@yahoo.com if you want to help out with the race.

Animal tales: Talk about an animal house — the folks at the Oakland Zoo have just built a new giraffe barn for their nine long-necked denizens. The 1,500-square-foot home has high ceilings — 25 feet tall — and a floor made of “hoof-proof” material. But the best part is the birthing room. It’s no stretch to imagine we’ll be seeing more baby giraffes in the near future. If you’d like to help buy medical equipment, call the zoo at 632-9525, ext. 153.

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