JAY DAVIS: I’ll miss the man in the Cards cap

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The day I learned the name Bill Kohn was rather infamous in my history.

During my freshman year, we were playing a junior varsity football game in Lemmon. I intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown, only to have it taken away when a penalty was called on one of my teammates. Bill threw the flag and that was how I learned his name.

So of course, he was Bill #$#!*@ Kohn to me for a number of years. It didn’t matter if the call was right or wrong; the call wronged me! When I was a freshman a football was about as big as my head. To me simply hanging on for the interception was momentous enough, let alone running 30 or 40 yards to the end zone.

I got to know Bill as an adult. He turned out to be one heck of a good guy. Eventually I even told him the story about the touchdown he took away from me. He didn’t remember it, of course. The play in question had left a zero imprint on his life.

Those of you who knew Bill knew that he was a wonderful athlete during his youth. After graduating high school in St. Louis and spending a year as a St. Louis University Billiken, he transferred to Black Hills State (College at the time), where he was all-conference in both basketball and football.

As an amateur basketball player, Bill was part of the 1972 Lemmon team that had as great a two-week span as any team could ever have. First the team won the South Dakota state title, right here in Mobridge. The next week he played for Hettinger and won North Dakota state title. Bill was even named MVP of the North Dakota tournament.

If you knew Bill you also knew he was a dyed-in-the-wool St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan. He loved his Cardinals as much as I love my Cubs, maybe even more since he had a direct kinship. He was a high school classmate and close friend with one of the Cardinals’ owners.

We spent many hours debating our teams. During our last couple of chats we had decided that the Cardinals (which they will) and Cubs (which they won’t) will be good enough to be serious postseason contenders. Bill was gracious with the fact that I am a long-suffering Cubs fan. Besides, my allegiance to the Cubs posed no threat to his allegiance to the Cards, just like in most seasons when the Cubs are not good enough to be a serious contender and knock the Cardinals out of the second season.

Bill was as big a sports nut as I am. The sport of the season was open to discussion a couple times a week. If he were sitting here today, we would be figuring out who was going to win the next round and advance past the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament. Of course we would have talked about how those Billikens rallied to beat North Carolina State in the opening round before falling to defending champ Louisville in the round of 32.

I’m going to miss Bill a lot. I’m not going to miss that St. Louis Cardinals cap, but I’m going to miss the man who wore it

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