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SUBMITTED by Gail Heimberger (16-Jan-2010)

There’s an old story of how a young priest who chides an older priest for going out in bad weather to help someone… to do an errand of mercy …without taking time to dressing warmly. The young priest, exclaimed, “You’ll catch your death of cold!” And the older priest replied, “When I die, it will not be of a cold, but it will be from having lived.” Ed La Rock died having lived. He knew, as many of us know, that the real tragedy of life is not death; it is not living. And so today we come to celebrate the life of one who lived his life… today we come to celebrate the life of Edward LaRock.

Ed’s life reminds us of a great truth: One does not have to be perfect, one does not have to be saintly in order to do the work that God calls us to do. Though, like all of us, Ed has his idiosyncrasies, his eccentricities, there is very little doubt that Ed followed the pathway God laid out for him.

Ed came from the old school… his way or the highway. He was a hard nose, he was fiercely competitive, demanded unconditional loyalty and he was used to calling the shots. Anyone who knew Ed… players, students, fellow coaches and those he coached against knew that. Ed was Ed, always his own authentic self and at times a bit unorthodox to say the least. One time on the trip home from a basketball game, which they’d loss, Ed, who doubled as coach and bus driver, overheard a player mumbling about how if they’d used a zone defense, they’d won the game. Ed, furious, stopped the bus in the middle of the road… no flashers… no anything and marched back to the back of the bus and chewed the kid out royally. I suspect that put an end to the Monday Morning quarterbacking.

Ed’s was competitive in everything…even in his cooking. He and Father Dave Ferone would have cook offs with Ed’s boys as judges and with both Father and Ed trying to unfairly influence the “judges.” In the church cook book, Father’s Dave’s meatloaf was even entitled: “Father Dave’s Better than Ed LaRock’s meatloaf.

Probably a high point and perhaps a turning point in his career came with his Section Championship in 72-3. Building the basketball program over a number of years had not been easy but in 72-73, as I am sure most all of remember, Sodus got into the playoffs. Well the boys, having no sectional game experience were tighter than a violin string. So Ed and his assistant coach, Tom Tathum wanted to loosen them up as they faced Hilton in the semi finals. So on the way to the War Memorial, Ed and Tom, each of whom were had a carload of players, decided to do some drag racing on 104. They kept passing each other, giving one another the famous hand signal each time they passed. By the time they arrived at the War Memorial, the boys had been laughing and joking so much, that they’d forgotten how nervous they’d been and handily defeated Hilton. And then with heavy betting on both sides, Sodus took on Newark in the sectionals Newark who had badly beaten Sodus in a preseason game… and Sodus beat them for the Section V Title. It was this that took Ed from being an average coach to being “Coach".

Coach with his 1972-1973 Sodus Basketball Team (22-0 Section V Class A Champions)

Ed also was one the early teachers to incorporate and promote life long sports in the PE program. He took kids camping to Saranac Lake, on ski trips, bowling, his teams to summer camps … to Florida. He wanted to make sure all kids had a chance to experience the outside world… for many kids this was their first time out of Sodus. And even when kids couldn’t afford, they got to go, compliments to Ed and his generosity.

I believe it was this same persistence and sense of loyalty to his job and his teams that made Ed the man he was. A few days before he died, I asked Ed what he most loved. His reply was immediate: “The kids and my mother.” He was, as one person said, the epitome of the loving, and devoted son. He cared for his mother for years… bought her a Cadillac even though she didn’t really want it. He was the ever faithful son.

And he was equally devoted to the kids: be it a kid he took in because there were troubles at home, or he had no place to stay or one that just needed a place for a while or his Foreign Exchange kids. He guided many a young man in his classes and on his team. Ed had a heart for them. But Ed’s love was a tough love. He wanted the kids to grow into good and positive adults and fathers.

But perhaps the most life changing time for him was when he decided to host Foreign Exchange students…when he became a Father. As Joan said, “Ed’s life is really a ‘Tale of Two Eds” …. The Ed before the boys… the Ed after the boys. The fact is, kids change us. Where things used to be black and white, they now become more shades of gray. The before kids Ed would always insist that families never take a kid on vacation during holidays when the kids might have to miss a practice. The after Ed, took his boys out of school to go on vacation. Ed was father to an amazing number of boys from all over the world… 24! It was interesting for me to see, for a man who had little family, his room at Blossom View and his home during his illness were always packed with friends and former kids coming to see him. You see, Sodus was Ed’s family.

I think a couple of his former players and students said it best: In an e-mail to his friends, a month or so ago, a young man said of Ed, “Besides family, Coach was probably the most influential person in my life. Every time I needed somewhere to go or someone to talk to he was there and he understood me more than anyone else.” And another wrote of how Ed was his model. This man, too never married but adopted and is raising 4 children… in a letter he said to Ed.” I want you to know that you are an inspiration to so many of us. You have devoted so much to us. You have made us grow, you kept us out of trouble as teens and you were an asset to our lives. You inspired me never to give up and you had a heart for children.”

Eleanor Roosevelt once wrote, Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart. Ed has left many a footprint.

We are all here for a purpose, a divine purpose, and the hand of God has been laid on us all. Certainly God’s hand was upon Ed’s life. And we are all richer .. as a community and as individuals for having known Coach. And the friendship and love that he gave to us all, do not come to an end for love never ends. Love abides.

Some of us might ask the question, “How could he die?” I say to you the better question is? How did he live? He lived, well my friends, he lived well.

Thanks be to God for the life of Ed LaRock.


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2 Comments to "Ed LaRock’s Homily"

  1. Anonymous Said,

    first of all, his name is not "Edward" but Edwin!

    Posted on Wed Apr 14, 11:54:00 PM EDT

  2. Anonymous Said,

    I love the article, thank you so much for posting it.

    Posted on Wed May 12, 03:42:00 PM EDT


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