On Sunday I helped in the preparation of the obit for an old friend, Ed Van Tine. Making sure the little details of this man’s big life were accurate was painful. How many awards he won seemed so trivial.
I also knew Ed would have none of it. I once tried to put together a list of his accomplishments to nominate him for the Lacrosse Hall of Fame and he was less than helpful. He wasn’t involved in coaching for the plaudits and he wanted no recognition.
Ed was one of the first friends I made after moving to Buffalo in 1983. I introduced myself because he had a “Loch Raven Lacrosse” bumper sticker on his truck. I grew up in Towson, Md., ground zero for lacrosse excellence in the 1960s and ‘70s, and Loch Raven Blvd. was about a mile from my house. Turns out we knew people in common.
My appreciation for Ed transcends sports. We moved into a home that had an unfinished room at the back and it was October. Winter was rushing in (and the Orioles were winning the World Series!) I could construct a story but building a room was beyond my abilities. Ed showed us how to removed a stone hearth, which didn’t meet fire code, and how to build a brick one on which we could place a wood stove. When we were slow laying the bricks on a Thanksgiving Day, he came over and quickly finished the job so we wouldn’t be late for turkey dinner. At his house.
Some of my favorite moments were when Ed would complain about the sports section I worked for. He would say he didn’t care to read about the pros, guys that didn’t come from here. He cared about the kids, he wanted to read about the kids, the ones he coached and the ones others coached. I assured him that most people wanted to read about the Bills and the Sabres but he wasn’t dissuaded. When talking about a subject he cared about, his eyes blazed with passion; picture a blue-eyed Mike Singletary. And he was passionate about the kids. I loved to see that fire blaze.
His wife always told us she never worried what he was doing when he wasn’t home. She knew he was on some field teaching anyone who would show up how to play lacrosse. He was a person who gave and gave and he did so despite not being in good health the entire time I knew him.
He belongs in the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame for building the game of lacrosse here from an afterthought to a mainstream sport. I also think he belongs in the national Hall of Fame because kids he coached and kids who learned from those he taught are making an impact on the college game.
His memorial service will be at the Rich Products Atrium on March 25 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The place will be packed because he gave so much to so many, and it wasn’t all just about a sport.
-- Fletcher Doyle