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John van Reenen - RIP


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  • #16
    Very sad to read of the passing of my friend John Van Reenen.

    John was the first athlete I met at WSU when I first arrived in Pullman in August of 1970. I was outside the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity (where I was to live), and with the fastest mouth in the West, then Assistant Coach John Chapin, when JVR drove up.

    We shook hands through the car window. My hand sort of disappeared. He then got out of the car and stood up, and up, and up. While John wasn’t the tallest person I had ever met, nor the heaviest, he was definitely the “biggest” in terms of human proportionality. He was the epitome, the essence, of the truly humble and gentle giant.

    At campus parties this handsome muscled giant was often required to respond to the query “Are you the same proportion all over?” But sadly, this once upon a time skinny long jumper never got asked that million-dollar question.

    John married a local Pullman girl. She was about 5'3" and my recollection is that John carried her around in his back pocket.

    I tenei ra, kua hinga he kauri nui o te waonui. E John, taku hoa, hoea atu tou waka ki te Po, ki te huihuinui o nga mano. Moe mai, moe mai, moe mai. Haere atu ra, haere, haere haere. (This day, a giant of the great forest has fallen. John, my friend, row your canoe through the darkness to the that final great meeting place of our ancestors. Sleep well, sleep well, sleep well. Farewell to you this day, farewell, farewell, farewell.)