The LuLac Edition #3452, March 19th, 2017
Bob Price was 27 years old when he passed away on Thursday. I was stunned when my friend Rob Neyhard put up a Face book post writing about a former student of his who died. I was hoping against hope that it wasn’t the same person I knew. But it was. As Mr. Carson on “Downton Abbey” said “Life is short, death is certain”. I always thought it extremely rude to ask a grieving family member of the deceased, “What happened?” The only entities that really know are the one who has passed on and their respective God. Knowing the reason doesn’t change the outcome. No big reveal even for someone Bob’s age takes the sting away of his leaving us.
However what goes a long way is telling people about the person you knew. So let me tell you about Bob Price.
As many of you know I do commentary on WBRE TV’s “Pa Live” program, “Eyewitness Newsmakers” as well as some of their newscasts. That’s where I met Bob. He was one of those guys that in his job moved. Whether it be running camera or helping move a cable, Bob was one of the guys who put the broadcast on. For about 6 months I never knew his name. He’d greet me, set me up and slide quietly back to his routine. One day as I was getting seated on “The Newsmakers” set, and Bob was pulling my suit coat down so it wouldn’t bunch up, I asked him his name. After that we were on a first name basis.
During my work career I have seen enough of those people who make the grand gesture. You know the type, the “atta boy” guy or woman who pays you a compliment, flashes a grin and then sail off on their ways. At my age you notice the small kindnesses that are sometimes all too rare in today’s world. Bob would make sure the nervous guest was comfortable before the hosts got there and he seemed to know that even though he saw broadcasters on various WBRE venues like Dave Kuharchik or Candice Kelly every day, this was the very first time that guest was seeing them. He knew who was nervous and who was not. As for me, he took special care to make sure my cane was out of the camera shot as well as casting a watchful eye as I got off the news platforms. During last year’s election, in a conspiratorial whisper he’d say, “I’m gonna get you a parking spot you're here so often”.
All that aside, let me tell you when we really bonded. One afternoon before a "Pa Live" program Bob and I were sitting in the studio on these colored metal chairs that I’m certain survived the flood of ’72. Somehow the talk shifted to a comment he heard that the professional wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson might enter politics. He leaned in and said, “You know who he is, right?” I replied, “Yeah never my favorite though, I was always a Kurt Angal guy”. It was a matter of fact comment but I noticed his eyes getting wide saying “You know
of Angal?” When I started to sing the iconic Kurt Angal anthem of “you suck” he was momentarily stunned. I saw he was surprised that someone three decades older than he followed the WWF. (He constantly corrected me that it was now the WWE). I told him that when I was in radio sales, The Arena was first starting and I used to get tickets. Bob then proceeded to tell me that he was doing camera work for all the WWE shows and was involved in the sport himself. He told me of the training he went through and how he was excited to learn that he might do more work with the sport he loved. As he walked away to set up the cooking segment, he shook his head, laughed and said “I can’t believe you knew Angal”. I yelled back, “I even had a Steve Austin tee shirt!" He almost collapsed in laughter and what I still think was a little wonderment.
Our last conversation was before the February 3rd broadcast of “Pa Live” this year. As per usual I got there early and Bob sat down and we talked. He had mentioned that Vince McMahon’s wife was just nominated for a job with Donald Trump and asked “You think she’ll need a metal chair? We laughed and I had mentioned that there was an ESPN documentary about the XFL. The XFL was the football league McMahon and NBC’s Dick Ebersole started to compete against the NFL when the network lost football. We spoke of the second game that essentially doomed the league because of a technical power failure and I think we both realized that while we weren’t friends, we certainly would never be strangers. We were trying to figure out the names of the teams and because it was Friday and tired, we both came up blank.
Later on that night I texted him via Facebook and wrote “It was the L.A. Extreme and the New York Hitmen”. He texted back, “Why yes! I loved the Hitmen!”
I never texted back that I indeed owned a “Hitmen” tee shirt too but I’m sure it wouldn’t have surprised him.
Usually because of my issues with standing I get to a wake early. I see who I need to see and rarely linger. Today after sharing a few stories with his grandmother and Mom as well as those grieving relatives in so much pain, I sat down and surveyed the room. There was a sea of younger women in black mourning dresses. I saw some of Bob’s younger relatives and the Funeral Director asking Bob’s grandmother if she needed any water. Streams of young men and women started to come in and pay their respects.
I watched them, looked at Bob’s open casket and realized that he was the same age I was when my father died. At the time (pre Mrs. LuLac) I was just starting to date a younger woman who never really lost any significant loved one. In the middle of the wake she quietly came up to me and said, “I never knew you’re father well but I knew he was a good man”. A little annoyed, I asked her how she could possibly know that.
She simply said, “I have never seen so many people, at the same time, feel so bad in one room for the same reason. That’s a good man”.
Bob Price I’m sure was many things in his all too short life. He was good student, a good friend, a good worker, good son and good grandson.
But Bob Price was a good man.
That room told us so today.