Remembering a friend

About three decades ago, I was sitting in the office of Head Football Coach Algona Garrigan, gathering information for a preview article on the Golden Bears? next football game.

Garrigan would be hosting Carroll Kuemper. One of the standard questions for a preview article was naming standout players of the opponent.

One of the first Kuemper Knights mentioned was a senior offensive/defensive lineman by the name of Keith Kohorst.

I never forgot the name and little did I know at the time that he would become a good friend.

About five or six years later, I was looking for a sports editor at the Washington Evening Journal. One of the first applications I received was from Keith Kohorst, who was a recent Iowa State University graduate and desiring a sports editing position.

The name clicked immediately; this was the same Keith Kohorst who was mentioned as a gridder to watch by the Garrigan coaching staff.

Keith was one of many applicants (the exact number escapes my memory). Most of the applicants were equal ? at least in experience. Let?s call a spade a spade ? a small daily newspaper isn?t going to attract many applicants with experience. Small newspapers serve as steppingstones in the game of career advancement.

Keith, however, had a small advantage, not only because I recognized his name but his clips were solid.

He was offered and accepted the position which ignited over a 20-year friendship. His sudden passing in 2007 may have ended the friendship but did not erase the memories.

I think of him often ? during my daily trips past his home on North Broadway, mention of his sons in sports articles and just sitting in the same news room as he did during his last newspaper position.

After working a number of years in Washington, he took a hiatus from sports writing to work at Pella Windows. But they say newspaper workers develop ink in the veins and soon he was back at the sports desk ? this time at the Mt. Pleasant News. After a few years at The News, he became the first full-time sports information director at Iowa Wesleyan.

So what do I remember about him? Mostly humorous things, some of which will remain private for obvious reason.

Keith loved football and especially the Super Bowl, regardless of who was playing. He also enjoyed adult beverages during the Super Bowl. If he did make it to work the next day, he always maintained the Monday after the Super Bowl should be a national holiday.

He did not always accept assignments eagerly. Instead, you would hear a little grumbling, but the assignment was always completed.

Keith and I coached a Little League Baseball team together. One year the team was playing in the AAU State Tournament. For some reason, we drove separately. He arrived first and I was barely out of the car when he motioned me off to the side. Pregame jitters had gotten to our first baseman before he could find a bathroom.

Being an Iowa State grad, he was a die-hard Cyclone fan so there was a lot of good-natured banter back-and-forth during football and basketball seasons. Christmas gifts generally were memorabilia of the two teams. Somehow, those four Cyclone glasses he gave me one Christmas were lost during a subsequent relocation.

Although we became separated by geography later in the friendship, we talked several times a month. The things that stick with me is how much he loved his wife, Jen, and his boys.

He was on top of the world the day he died of a heart attack after working out. Although he no longer physically in my life, he never completely will leave my life.