A Remembrance

by Carroll Canfield
Herman Wedemeyer Memorial Luncheon
St.  Mary's College, November 13, 1999

  I know a person who lives on — a person who could sing beautifully and strum a wonderful ukelele piece. But the songs within his heart carried him to acting as well as a grand all-around athletic career during his lifetime. A teenage surfer on the huge waves in Hawaii. I remember him well! Herman Wedemeyer — All American, Saint Mary's College — a hero for all time.

October 24, 1999 in Atlanta, Georgia, a memorable night to honor 30 baseball greats of this century prior to the second game of the World Series. Patti LaBelle sang the Star Spangled Banner. As I watched on TV, I was very touched as these glorious living and deceased greats of the baseball world were presented.

I thought of my youthful baseball days at Saint Mary's and of Wedey as a great centerfielder for our College team. I recalled the rocket home run he hit out of Wrighly Field in Los Angeles to help whip powerful USC in 1948. Only three years before Wedey and the Galloping Gaels stunned USC before 80,000+ fans in L.A. Memorial Coliseum. The score 20 SMC — USC 0.

Guess who scored two touchdowns and two extra points? The press and fans saw tiny Saint Mary's roll over the mighty USC Trojans. The write-ups were glorious!

October 27, 1999, the golfing world lost our 1999 United States Open Champion, Payne Stewart. This loss reminded me once again of Herman. We played golf many times over the years and he was a super player. He played many years in the Hawaiian Open and Knew Payne Stewart. These men were both truly fine gentlemen as proven by honesty and integrity on the golf course. These past four or five years, Wedey was the honorary starter each year for the Hawaiian Open.

November 1, 1999 another football Hall of Fame star, Walter Payton, joined our Saint Mary's immortal Herman Wedemeyer — both great stars!

What I hold are only three stories told on the Herman Wedemeyer web site. Liz Clare and her sister Mary, both from Austin, Texas are here today. Liz provided the web site for you computer buffs. The life of Wedemeyer is being added to daily and you can spend hours enjoying pictures, articles, letters, stories and the book of life in our memories of a Gael hero.

Today, I share with Herm's widow Carol from Honolulu and her family, as well as Herman Wedemeyer, Jr. and his children along with you in attendance, some of my memories of long ago.

  • Playing catch on baseball diamonds and Herm's great arm
  • His throws from centerfield and his agility and sense of the game.
  • Kicking a football for 75 yards back and forth with him on a Saturday afternoon at college in 1948.
  • The many baseballs he clobbered, including that home run over the centerfield fence at Wrighly Field.
  • Singing songs in the red/blue Saint Mary's bus on our way to and from sports events and games.
  • Dinner with Wedey and Carol at Wailae country Club in Honolulu. My wife Carole and I heard our waitress state, "What an honor for her to wait on the Wedemeyers. Please accept a bottle of wine as a gift from me." He was loved in the islands.
  • Carol and Herm on vacation as our houseguests in Sacramento for a week. What fun we all had!
  • Playing golf at Olympic club in San Francisco with Wedey, Stan Dembecki from Scottsdale, and our baseball team catcher. We were guests of Saint Mary's Hall of Fame basketball star Joe Thurston in 1992.
  • Conversations with Wedey about his youth in Hawaii. The romance in his high school days - surfing, swimming, golf and great times before coming to the mainland and Saint Mary's College to make his All-American mark with the youthful Galloping Gaels of 1945 — Sugar Bowl bound.
  • A team player but most importantly a person proud of his personal appearance at all times and most courteous to friends, admirers and teammates.
  • Thousands of lines in articles by famous and non famous sportswriters, the L.A. Times, New York times, Boston Herald, San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner, Oakland Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, Sacramento Bee and even the Stockton Record and Woodland Democrat newspapers.
  • Watching Hawaii Five-O each week for 12 years — always looking for Wedey and his part. It gave me a kick, and even so today with the reruns, to see Herm as Duke with his dark glasses.
  • Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard, all-Americans in 1945 backfield with Wedey do not have a web site. But Herman Wedemeyer, All-American from Saint Mary's College, CA lives in the worldwide space age.
  • He was unassuming in his manner to those who viewed him as an athletic hero for the almost 60 years since his high school days.
  • Herman and Carol were married in 1955 — 44 years.

Carol, family and all here today, Herman Wedemeyer will be remembered at Saint Mary's in perpetuity.

Carol, as we've talked, you were married to a wonderful mate - wonderful in many ways. We will miss him but he will not be forgotten.

Carol, keep playing golf twice each week at Wailai CC in memory of your dear husband.

We at Saint Mary's are all proud that grandson Tucker Brown is now attending Saint Mary's and is a star golfer on the Gael team.

Lastly, at 3 a.m. this past Sunday morning at our beach home at Bodega Bay, I could not sleep. How fitting that I found a poem book I purchased in London 20 years ago, but had never opened.

On page 38 of this 1855 poetical keepsake book I found the following poem:

Human Life by Bernard Barton (1838)

I walked the fields at morning's prime
The grass was ripe for mowing.
The skylark sang his mating chime
and all was brightly glowing.

"And thus," I cried, "the ardent boy,
His pulse with rapture beating,
Deems life's inheritance his joy,
The future proudly greeting."

Herman Wedemeyer lives on!

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