Tuesday, January 27, 2015


(Because it’s always about “moi”—here are one man’s thoughts about how Kevin Crossland affected his life)

            When we met at Cal I liked him immediately.  And then I didn’t.  No doubt the feeling was mutual.  He was younger, a Beta (was there anything worse?)—loud and uninhibited.  We are what we hate—and I didn’t need another carefree, obnoxious lout like me infringing on my territory.
            But we were friends—as we had mutual respect for Cal, its traditions, and many other good guys vouched for him—a true sign of one’s character.  He was a friend of friends.
            We were never enemies—just not close.
            Then the Goobs and I returned from Nueva Djork, and began attending Cal functions.  Kevin was always there.  We re-kindled our relationship and found we had much more in common than we realized.
            He was a true Sacramento boy, as my mom had been a Sacto chic.  He was friends of the legendary Herb Jackson—as was Maggie—though Herb was probably a dozen years older than me and an equal number of years younger than Maggie and Jim Pop.
            The greatest running back to ever come out of Sacto—and truly one of life’s bad boys, but great guys—Herb was an original.  He loved me, because he loved Maggie.  And he loved Kevin, no doubt because he saw himself in him.  Bad boys of a feather and all that.
            I respected Kevin for that—and that respect grew over the years as I got to know him as an adult.
            Kevin wouldn’t let me roam.  He kept on me.  Made me better.  Argued with me incessantly and showed me the sunny side of life.
            He had his demons.  But unlike most of us, he had conquered them.  He saw that I had mine and without mentioning a word, he was determined help me overcome them.
            When the sainted Chuck Muncie died (yes, despite what you may have heard about some of his recreational activities, Chuck transformed many Cal lives) it was Crossland who purchased the Tee shirts (with the oversized glasses on the front) and had us all wear them at the memorial service.  
            Kevin and Muncie had been fast friends.  I think back in the bad boy days at Cal they both shared an interest in chemicals—er, chemistry.
            It was Kevin who convinced Sandy Barbour to allow his buddies to go on the field during a Cal game, wearing their Jersey’s to honor Chuck, during “Chuck Muncie Day”—an event created out of whole cloth by Kevin. 
            A rugger, Kevin knew Sandy Barbour was bringing down the institution, but unlike moi, he chose to work from the inside out to fix the debacle.
            He called me twice a week to talk about Cal and how to fix it.  He stepped up and hired youngsters to work for him for (a legal) $15 dollars an hour—to move furniture or work in his yard.
            Cal reciprocated and flew him on jets to games and paid him homage.  Much to their chagrin, he often included me.
            A few years back, he moved to Napa and we became—not inseparable—but co-dependents.  Our focus was Cal—and getting it fixed.
            He read and commented on every “CAL FAN’S NOTES.”  He saw it as a way to get the word out on how to “fix broken windows.”
            Many of the themes were his idea.  He gave insider “insight” which he’d gleaned from coaches he golfed with and the kids who had worked for him—most Black, by the way.  Kevin didn’t have a racist bone in his body and he was perturbed at how we were insulting these fine young men with various “programs” and classes, which diminished their humanity.
            Boy, was he smart..
            He gave a ton of dough to Cal and for the most part they treated him well.  He kept me focused and toned down my most vitriolic diatribes.
            He came up with a wonderful plan to keep Tedford  when the going got tough,  which  incentivize him to succeed.  He presented it, and of course Sandy turned him down cold.  But take it from an old guy , it was brilliant—and had it been enacted, Tedford might be there today—and be a success—both on the field and academically.
            Kevin was a thinker.  And unlike most of us, he was smart.
            Where did he find Frannie? 
            Every man I ever met wanted to marry her.  Besides being beautiful, and exuding sex, she had a persona, which elevated all of us—but most of all Kevin.      
            Unless you’ve seen her perform, you won’t know what this means—but she was a drummer.  And she taught Kevin—though he couldn’t hold a candle to her energy.  On half a dozen occasions, I have seen her beat those Tom Toms, with other professionals, until even I had to start shaking to the syncopated rhythm.  When she did it with Kevin (though, in truth he looked like me—a white guy with no moves)—it was magical.
            Once Kevin came to Napa, we were tied at the hip. He would have it no other way.  A non-drinker, he insisted we drive down together to all the Cal events—Rugby dinners, lunches, fund raisers, Skull and Keys reunions—you name it.
            He took other Cal fellows under his wing who had demons to fight, and included them. 
            Kevin’s later life was spent helping those of us lesser souls getting our act together.  And Frannie supported him all the way.
            Cal Tennis, Cal Rugby, Cal football all benefited from his generosity.  And it wasn’t just money
            All the coaches knew that if they needed an event, Kevin was a soft touch.  We had so many more meals at his house than he had at ours—I feel ashamed.
            How easy it would have been for him to have written me off.  But he never did.  Via phone, text, and e-mail he worked on me to help him make Cal better.
            On many things he agreed with me.  But he was not in to “bitching.” He was into finding solutions.
            He was not just an amazing husband and father.  He was an outstanding friend.
            I cannot stand that he is gone.  All of us have lost friends, too young, but this one is the worst.
            He had invited me to go Duck hunting in December.   I was closing a real estate deal and had to beg off.  How stupid was I?  No commission could ever match the joy of  being with one of God’s great gifts—Kevin.  I will regret that decision for the rest of my life.
            Kevin made me a better person than I was.  I was never able to return the favor.  And now “He belongs to the ages.”
            I can’t believe that he will never call me again with an idea about how to fix Cal—or a constructive critique about what I write.

 Our prayers  go out to Frannie and the kids..  Please Join me.