If the well-lived life is its own reward, Pat Teagarden died yesterday a rich man indeed.
You won't see his obit in the New York Times or the Washington Post, and he won't get the Sports Center treatment on ESPN. But in his community -- the community of Fort Wayne, and the community of soccer within it -- he was a giant. The very richness of the soccer culture in this city is his legacy, because he served it without stint in every capacity imaginable for almost four decades.
A couple of weeks ago, when the grave nature of his condition became known, that culture paid testament to his legacy at Fort Wayne Sport Club. An overflow crowd of friends, colleagues, former teammates and, most of all, former players gathered for a tribute, some of them coming from entire states away. They remembered him the way any man would like to be remembered, as a teacher and friend and vibrant advocate for his chosen passion, soccer, and for life in general.
I was there that night, and wrote about it. In the days since, I've been inundated with notes, e-mails and phone calls from, literally, all over the country. Nearly every one testified to the positive impact Teagarden had on innumerable lives, and what an awful hole he was going to leave.
If there is a better eulogy for the man, I can't think of it.