Jill's Journal: Bob

Jill Meier, Journal editor

For many years, I’ve been fortunate to consider Bob Young as a friend.

Many of you, I imagine, called Bob your friend, too.

Last week, when I heard the news of his passing via text from a friend, almost instantly, tears began to line the bottoms of my eyes. And almost as soon as the tears began, memories of our many interactions over the years flowed through my mind.

The last time I saw Bob was at the local grocery store. We exchanged our hellos, I asked how he was doing, and he the same, and then I let him know that if he needed any help getting his groceries from the cart to his car, I’d be happy to help. He graciously thanked me, and we both went off to do our shopping.

I didn’t see Bob at the checkout lane that day. Perhaps he was still perusing the aisles, likely having a conversation or two with other shopper friends along the way. Or, perhaps he’d already come and gone, and was able to handle the bag(s) on his own. I’ll never know, but I’ve wondered, did I leave too soon?

A little over a year ago, Bob and I sat around the table on his deck. It was early fall. With bees buzzing around the patio flowers and the sun shining brightly, it was the perfect atmosphere for an afternoon talk with Bob. Actually, anytime was a perfect time for a talk with Bob.

On this particular day, I had earmarked an hour for my talk with Bob. As it turned out, an hour wasn’t enough. The alarm on my phone, summoning me to my next appointment, told me so. I also was more than a “few” minutes late for that next appointment, but I was OK with that. 

Bob was always so easy to talk with, and as I learned, we had several things in common. My first newspaper reporting job was in Hawarden, Iowa. Bob once lived there. And prior to Brandon, my career took me to neighboring Garretson, where Bob began his legendary football coaching career. We delighted in knowing some of the same people and neighborhoods and community traditions. And we compared notes on them all.

Since coming to Brandon 18 years ago, I’ve done several interviews with Bob. And until then, I really didn’t know him. As one may expect, it would be football that would introduce us to one another. I first met him on the sidelines of Lynx football games. As it happened, my first year in Brandon was Bob’s son-in-law, Chad Garrow’s first season as the head coach of Brandon Valley football. 

After retiring from a stellar football coaching career, including 22 seasons at the helm of the University of Sioux Falls Cougars, it was his induction into the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame in 2009 that instigated our first official interview.

There were follow-ups in the years to come, but they didn’t always center around football.

As many of you know, Bob was a man of deep faith, and was one of the leading forces behind the Brandon Area Prayer Breakfast. Over the years, Bob used his many connections in lining up “celebrity” sports figures, authors and others to share their inspirational faith-based stories.

My last official interview with Bob was on that beautiful fall day that I noted earlier. He’d been selected as the 2021 Brandon Community Spirit Award winner. The award wasn’t about his coaching days, but more about his Christian heart that eventually grew the annual Prayer Breakfast from a dozen or so attendees to a packed house in the 800-seat BV Performing Arts Center. I have no doubt, that like the “Grinch who stole Christmas,” Bob’s heart ballooned in size right along with the ever-growing Prayer Breakfast crowd.

Bob stopped by the Journal office from time to time. Most times, he was on his bike and was coming to share some tidbit of news, like last year’s Arise With the Guys virtual event that Brandon would now be joining as a host site. Yes, Bob was part of that Christian-based endeavor, too, and I was only too happy to help spread the word.

Another time, he brought in a clipping of a column I had “written” years ago, titled, “And that’s how the fight started …” I didn’t actually write the column, in fact, I “borrowed” it from who knows where. It obviously tickled Bob’s funny bone, so much so, that he kept it and rediscovered it while sorting through files of “paperwork.” Here’s one of the snippets from that column:

“One year, a husband decided to buy his mother-in-law a cemetery plot as a Christmas gift. The next year, he didn’t buy her a gift, and when she asked him why, he replied, ‘Well, you still haven’t used the gift I gave you last year!’

“And that’s how the fight started …”

The snippets in that column were funny, sweet and certainly intended no harm. Those are some of the same adjectives that I would use to describe Bob. He had a sense of humor, a kind heart and surely presented no harm to anyone who may have crossed his path. He loved God. He loved his family. He loved his players and football colleagues. And he loved this community who wholeheartedly loved him back.

Like many of you, I’m going to miss Bob and his ever-so-calming presence in our community. But like many of you, I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to call Bob my friend.


The Brandon Valley Journal


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