TeamMates November 2007

Thanks to Dick Bahme, Track, 1940, for writing in to share some proud and memorable moments with fellow Big C alums. Dick tells us that his wife of 61 years, Anna, was teaching Women's Physical Education at Cal when he met her in 1946. She earned a varsity letter in Field Hockey, which was awarded by the Women's C Society at that time. Anna earned her M.S. in Biology and Physical Education from Wellesley College in Massachusetts. After lettering at Cal, Dick ran the 440 and mile relay with San Francisco's Olympic Club track team in 1941. During World War II, he ran the 440 with the US Army Mediterranean Theatre track team, and was subsequently appointed coach of the Fifth Army track team in Milano, Italy where they trained. His team defeated the Italian team in Milano, Torino, Florence and Rome, and subsequently flew to Frankfort, Germany to meet General Eisenhower's European Theatre track team . . . also to Paris for a little R&R. (The editor is assuming that the Frankfort and Paris visits took place after the Allies had made sure that the only guns being fired in their vicinity was a starter's pistol.)

Glad to hear from Brock Settlemier, Rugby, '56, who wrote to let everybody know that he and wife of 50 years, Marlene Bigge Settlemier, are now dividing time between homes in Piedmont and on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe. Brock was President/CEO of Bigge Crane & Rigging Company from 1980 until his retirement in 2004. A general engineering contractor with very impressive credentials (editor's observation, not Brock's), he still stays busy with various construction activities, including the Settlemier's new lakefront home at Tahoe. They have four children and nine grandchildren

Bob Sockolov, Tennis, '51, has retired as President/CEO of Rochester Big & Tall Clothiers. He's rehabbing knee and shoulder replacements . . . says he's slow to return to competitiveness but working at it. (Hmmmm . . . hope the docs got the right parts in the right places. Ever try to walk when your shoulder is where your knee should be - or put on a shirt when your knee is where your shoulder should be??)

John Merchant, Track, '58, has just spent six poignant and memorable months recreating his father's scrapbook . . . spanning an athletic career from 1917 to 1932. As a Cal Track & Field competitor of extraordinary ability, his Dad is enshrined in the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame, and participated in two Olympic Games (1920 and 1924). That makes three generations of athletes through which the Merchant family has helped build Cal athletics. Two lettered in track & field (Jack, '22 and John, '58) . . . the third, John Jr., lettered in tennis in 1987. (John Jr. apparently figured out that if you're going to do that much running around, you might as well take a swing at something when you get to where you're going.)

Kirk Smith, Crew, '39, notes that his Favorite Cal Sports Moment occurred on June 17, 1939 when the Cal Varsity Crew won the Inter-Collegiate Rowing Association Championship at Poughkeepsie on the Hudson River in New York. Kirk was Stroke on the Cal crew that set a new course record in beating Washington, Navy, Cornell, Syracuse, Wisconsin and Columbia in a time of 18 minutes, 12-3/5 seconds over a 4 mile race. (Kirk notes that this record still stands since they no longer row 4 miles, but 2,000 meters which is the Olympic distance). Other members of this history making crew included Chet Gibson (7), Stan Freeborn (6), Emil Bergh (5), Linton Emerson (4), Dave deVarona (3), Stan Backlund (2), Benson Roe (Bow) and Jim Dieterich (Cox). Congratulations to all . . . and special thanks to Kirk for sharing the memory!

Congratulations to Bill Keller, Swimming, 1949 for winning 6 (as in SIX) Gold Medals at the recent 2007 Arkansas Senior Olympics . . . and for sharing his hard-earned gold with The Big C Society. The following is excerpted from an article that appeared in the Arkansas Weekly Vista, Wednesday, October 10, 2007: KELLER STRIKES GOLD AT 2007 GAMES Doing well in the Arkansas Senior Olympics has given Bella Vista swimmer Bill Keller enough gold neckwear to make Mr. T jealous. With his performance in the 2007 games grabbing him six first-place finishes, his medal collection has grown to nearly 40. Keller competed in the 50-, 100-, and 200-meter backstroke and freestyle swimming events for men between the age of 85 and 89. He has competed in the same events in his corresponding age group for several years. The Senior Games were held September 26-30 in Hot Springs. The events take place around September every year, and on even years serve as qualifiers for the national games, according to Gail Ezelle, executive director of the Arkansas Senior Olympics.

Keller, 85, has been competing in the Olympics since 1989, but has been swimming since he was a boy. "I started swimming at the YMCA when I was in eighth grade." When he was old enough, Keller competed at the high-school level, which subsequently earned him a spot on the University of California swim team. He credits his strong swimming background with helping him achieve his strong showing in the 2007 events. "I have sort of an unfair advantage, because I had good coaching in high school and college." However, the blade forged by coaches long ago is kept sharp by Keller's weekly workout routine. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday he can be found in the Branchwood Recreation Center pool, swimming his three-quarters of a mile. Something else that helps him keep his edge is daily exercises, he said. Every morning, Keller conducts 30 minutes of stretching and flexibility training. "That's what keeps me loose, I think."

While there is a spirit of competition at the games, it is rarely about beating others or winning the gold, Keller noted, that's not the point. In fact, Keller gives most of his medals away, awarding one to each of his five children, 13 grandchildren and his four - soon to be five - great-grandchildren. (For the record, he also shared one of his Golds with Big C - it arrived in the mail last week.) So why, with more gold medals than King Midas, does he continue to compete? It's about fun, personal growth and self-improvement, Keller explained. "You really try to beat your own time and do better at a meet than you've ever done before." 

So congratulations again, Bill. And thanks for sharing. Your Big C teammates and friends admire your achievements and applaud your efforts

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