Remembering Al Whitlow

I have seen all the tributes and testimonials for Allan Whitlow in The News-Dispatch and I would like to add some from a different perspective from an early period in Allan's life.

I may have first met Allan in 1953 at the start of my freshman year at Elston. I don't recall exactly how I first met him, but I did play on Allan's Black Pirate basketball squad. My first impression of Allan, as I remember it, was an admiration for his outstanding athletic ability. The second was an appreciation for his friendliness and the respect other teammates showed him. From the Black Pirates to the Pink Imps and finally the Red Devils, he was always a star player and fun to watch using his amazing jumping ability to show his athleticism. From basketball to baseball, where he was again a star player, flawlessly playing the outfield.

Beyond being a leader in sports, Allan was a loyal friend with a smile and a warm greeting. Although I wouldn't say that he and I were close friends, as some might define it, he made me feel like one. It was common for students to have nicknames in those days, at least that was true for the male students. There was Beech, Kraut, Saba, Booz, Little Nose and some had more than one nickname. Of course, Allan was in this group and you may be able to guess what his nickname was, Whit — an appropriate nickname since, among his other fine qualities, he had a great sense of humor.

I lost track of Allan after graduation when he went on to St. Joseph's College for his Bachelor's degree and didn't connect with him again until the first class reunion. I'd have to admit that he was one of the classmates I was always hoping would be there and, sure enough, there he was and he hadn't changed except that he began the metamorphosis of looking exactly like his father, Louis, as I remember him. I wasn't able to attend all of the class reunions, but each one I did attend, there was Allan walking the floor, greeting all the classmates that he could in the few short hours.

We were raised at a great time for our transition from adolescents to adults. Having fun, respecting our elders, gaining ambition, recognizing responsibility, humility and consequences for bad behavior. For some reason, I have saved a copy of an article from The News-Dispatch that announced a tribute to Allan for being awarded Michigan City's Humanitarian of the Year honor. In the article, Allan was quoted, "We had so much spirit in those days, so much spirit in the school and the city." Likely, all of the Class of 1957 remembers that feeling.

So, in conclusion, thanks "Whit," for being a part of our life at a time when the world was beginning to change. At a time when fun and spirit was plentiful and learning the outlook for a bright future was within reach if you were willing to work for it.

Dick Potempa

Pacific City, Oregon

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