Notre Dame, Win One for the "Big Happy"


Dean Brown was a 330-pound starting offensive tackle on Notre Dame's last national championship team. He like all of us in Irish nation was eager to see Notre Dame reach that pinnacle again. He  died suddenly on November 29.

One teammate remembered him as someone who made the world around him smile. In this morning's  Tribune sports pages, Brian Hamilton writes with a simple pathos about this Irish gridiron hero. About his last hours of life. About what he meant to this teammates and  his family. About how Bill Cosby once  unexpectedly gave him a brutally frank reality check which changed the direction of his life. Hamilton writes beautifully about this giant of a man who died so  prematurely, never to  celebrate or be disappointed by the outcome of the big game.

But he was a man of faith. And those who knew him would understand that there are much  more important things in life than winning a football game, even a national championship . Those who knew him would understand that he had reached his most  important goal. Home, at last, with his Creator. The God whose goodness he reflected in the way  he treated his fellow man. He was teacher and a principal.  And the young he taught and led will be his legacy.

At Brown's funeral service, Hamilton says, a memorial program was handed out. It had  words of wisdom that had been an inspiration to the deceased. Words of a Indian chief who died two centuries ago during the War of 1812. Chief Tecumseh of the Shawnees. He's mentioned in Dennis Byrne's fine historical novel, "Madness: The War of 1812". Tecumseh is a folk-hero to Native-Americans, Canadians, and others. 

"So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart," Tecumseh said. "Love your life, perfect  your life, beautify all things in your life."

"When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living."

""Sing your death song and die like a hero going home."    Dean's gone home.  Smilng all the way.

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