I had been away for several days and returned late last night to learn that our friend, Kurt Westfall, had succumbed to post surgical complications after a stroke, suffered earlier last week. I am deeply saddened.
Kurt was an avid runner until seriously injured in an awful auto accident several years ago. Despite a long and arduous hospitalization he didn’t quit on life or family; instead, he came back to coach pole vaulters from many of the area high schools, and I saw him often at the Maclay School pole vaulting runway late into the evening in any weather, giving instruction to male and female athletes. He remained a friendly and nurturing voice here in athletics and to family including his wonderful wife Lucy, and three lovely daughters, Erin, Megan and Emily. I never heard a sour word from Kurt despite the tough hand that life had dealt him including when I visited him in the hospital after the auto accident, with tubes and pins poking in and out of him everywhere and when he obviously was in great pain and discomfort. He was that kind of guy.
Kurt did not come naturally to running in that physically he resembled a middle linebacker more than a runner. It is easier for genetically blessed runners to be faster runners. However, I think that the real mark of any runner is not always his or her absolute place at the finish line but rather how he or she does in terms of getting the most out of their God given level of talent. In that respect Kurt excelled and he got as much out of himself as anyone I have ever competed against. He wasn’t afraid to toe the line and make you prove your mettle in any race. Yet when the race was all over, he invariably had a smile on his face and a kind word to say about something or someone.
Our children also ran cross country and track together in high school and we often traveled to out of town races and track meets. It was easy to see that Kurt and Lucy were intensely proud of their daughters and for good reason. Like their dad and mom, they competed well regardless of whether they finished first or somewhere else in sports and, more importantly, in life. Good qualities inherited from a good father and mother.
l found Kurt Westfall to be an inspiration and he will be missed greatly. Kurt, every time I pass the pole vaulting runway and pit on my run from the Maclay track onto the Lake Overstreet trails, I’ll be thinking of you, clipboard under your arm, cherubic smile on your face.