Old Coaches Fade Away…

Posted on July 25, 2010


This post is in memory of my first swim coach, the legendary Harry Meisel, who hand-plucked me from the decks of Rollins College pool. Without his leadership and guidance, I never would have developed into the swimmer, coach, and father I am today.

For those of us who knew and loved Harry, he was a true hero in every sense of the word, having fought in the Battle of the Bulge. For those of you who are only reading about him, Harry is the stuff of legends. Coach Meisel, founder of the Blue Dolfins, passed away last night, and here is a note from his son, Kevin.

Dear Family & Friends,

Like all old soldiers, my dad has faded away…he took his last breath soon after 1:40 this morning.  Many thanks to ALL for the prayers, cards, letters, and fond memories of a great American and family man, Coach Harry John Meisel.

I have thought much about the old soldier since Memorial Day and took time last night to read and listen to General Douglas MacArthur’s speech.  The scope of his speech is much broader than the “old soldiers” ballad he made famous in his closing remarks, but there are a few lines that reminded me of my dad.  I can envision him saying much the same words, but with a delivery akin to General George S. Patton!

General MacArthur’s Address to Congress

April 19, 1951

Mr. President, Mr. Speaker and Distinguished Members of the Congress:

I stand on this rostrum with a sense of deep humility and pride — humility in the weight of those great architects of our history who have stood here before me, pride in the reflection that this home of legislative debate represent human liberty in the purest form yet devised.

Here are centered the hopes and aspirations and faith of the entire human race.

I do not stand here as advocate for any partisan cause…

I trust, therefore, that you will do me the justice of receiving that which I have to say as solely expressing the considered viewpoint of a fellow American.

I address you with neither rancor nor bitterness in the fading twilight of life, with but one purpose in mind: to serve my country.

I am closing my 52 years of military service. When I joined the Army, even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfillment of all of my boyish hopes and dreams. The world has turned over many times since I took the oath at West Point, and the hopes and dreams have all since vanished, but I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barracks ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that old soldiers never die; they just fade away. And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty.

Good Bye.

Friends, thank you for letting me put a few of my thoughts in this message as a way of paying homage to my dad.  Two of my young swimmers handed me “Thank You” notes at the conclusion of today’s championship swim meet…they ended their well written notes with a wish for my dad to feel better soon!  I believe he is now feeling better as he is raised on eagle’s wings to be with his heavenly Father and all those old soldiers who have gone before him.

Please look for the wake service and funeral Mass arrangements in Tuesday’s Orlando Sentinel: www.orlandosentinel.com

Take Care & God Bless All…

Good Bye, Dad…I Love You,

Kevin, your loving son and assistant coach!

“Old Soldiers”: