Matt Gade, Deseret News
Duane Hardy had a gentle, kind spirit and a humility that permeated everything about him. He was a Vietnam veteran. At six years my elder, both of us were bound by similar challenges as young married fathers struggling through college while working on the sports staff of a college newspaper.
Hardy was the sports editor of The Daily Universe at BYU in 1976 and I was one of his sportswriters trying to learn the trade and hopefully one day find a place in the business. I was eager to please him and he believed in me.
I bring up Hardy today because of his intersection with BYU head basketball coach Dave Rose, who began this basketball season undergoing surgery as part of his treatment for pancreatic cancer.
Rose has fought cancer in his body since June 2009. On Wednesday, for the 14th straight year, Rose and his wife Cheryl led a cancer fundraiser by hosting Mac’s Gift Charity — the collection and distribution of gifts for 60 families who have children with cancer.
In other words, Rose talks the talk and walks the walk. He did so before his diagnosis.
Sandwiched in between BYU's loss to Utah last Saturday and the Cougars' upcoming game at Oregon comes this opportunity to tell a Rose story he probably would never share himself.
Hardy and I got our degrees one year apart. He worked for the state of Utah and I stayed in the newspaper business. Occasionally, we’d trade phone calls — and later emails — over the past 40 years, but I never saw him again.
On Oct. 9 this past fall, I received the following email from Duane:
It has been many years since our days working on The Daily Universe.
I have had a life-changing event in my life and it has prompted me to seek out my friends from the past.
In May, I retired from my data processing career with the state, only to find out that the perplexing illness that had been bothering me for a couple of weeks was pancreatic cancer.
A tumor was found in the head of my pancreas. At this time it cannot be removed. There is also cancer in my liver and other places that need to be treated first.
So right now, the length and quality of my life will be dictated by the success of my chemo treatments. Not great news, but I am faithfully going to the treatments and obeying all the rules.
I would love to see you again and maybe share a lunch. It would be fun to get a picture with you so my kids will believe that I actually worked on a paper and with a famous sportswriter.
I also have a big desire on my bucket list that you may be able to help me with.
I would love to meet and shake hands with Dave Rose.
He has become a bigger hero in my life now. Not only because he is a great coach and person, but for the way he is fighting his pancreatic cancer. I feel like I have a bond with him now. I would be honored to meet him.
I would be very grateful if you could try to set this up.
If you are unable, perhaps you could send me the name of a person I could contact.
Regardless of a Dave Rose meeting or not, I would still love to have lunch with you.
As you have time, with your busy schedule and all, will you get back with me?
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