Barrie Lutze and I had a lot in common.
Specifically, a love for fishing and high school sports.
He and I didn’t get to go on that fishing trip that we talked about from time to time, but I wish we would have. I would have learned a lot. Actually, my father-in-law won a guided fishing trip on the Wolf River with Barrie that would have taken place this year. I, of course, invited myself along and I wasn’t even going to charge either one of them for my guiding expertise.
I don’t remember the first time I met Barrie, but I’ll bet it was Friday, Aug. 30, 1996. I had just been hired to replace Rick Patzke as associate editor of the Waupaca County Post and I was with Rick on the sidelines for the Comet football team’s season-opening 27-6 win over Manawa at Haberkorn Field.
Barrie would have been on the sidelines at the game keeping statistics for the team, a job he handled through the 2013 season. He never gave me grief for interrupting him during a game when I wasn’t paying attention. Turtle, on the other hand? Well, that’s another story for another day.
It’s going to be different without Barrie on the sidelines this season, that’s for sure.
Barrie was also a familiar sight at Comet basketball games, running the clock or keeping the scorebook.
I’m sure fishing was at the top of his list of things to do when he retired in 2010 after 38 years of teaching English at Waupaca Middle School.
Sports was a big part of Barrie’s life during those 38 years. He coached middle school basketball for 29 seasons, football for 14, volleyball for 10 and girls’ basketball for five.
“All those experiences were beneficial to my teaching,” he said at the time of his retirement.
Barrie also found time over the years to write sports stories for the Waupaca County Post and County Post West. He helped me in recent years at Amherst football and basketball games and also traveled to Fargo, N.D., in October and December 2013 to cover former Comet quarterback Brock Jensen, who went on to lead North Dakota State to three straight national championships.
His first story about Jensen, “Jensen remembers his roots,” appeared in the Oct. 24 County Post West and is reprinted this week, as is his Dec. 26 story, “Dream continues for Jensen, Bison.”
Both were well-written stories that obviously had a lot of thought behind them. Barrie e-mailed both stories to me less than a day after he returned home. His pictures were pretty good, too.
Waupaca’s Gail Springsteen provided me with a photo of a smiling Barrie – his camera around his neck – at one of the North Dakota State games at the Fargo Dome.
No one knew it at the time, but that day – Oct. 12 – turned out to be his last birthday.
Barrie’s love of kids and fishing also led to the formation of the Reel Faith Fishing Club at Waupaca’s First United Methodist Church, where he taught confirmation classes and Sunday school and participated in several mission trips.
The club also began holding a Free Fishing Day each January to help introduce kids to the sport of fishing. Not only did Barrie line up the prizes that kids left with, he also showed them the proper way to make homemade jigs. My sons looked forward to the event each year and returned home with rods, reels, fishing tackle and other goodies.
Thanks for all you’ve done, Barrie. You’ll be missed.
Memorial visitations are scheduled from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, April 4, at Holly Funeral Home, 526 S. Main St., Waupaca; and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at First United Methodist Church, 720 Demarest St., Waupaca. A memorial service is scheduled for 3 p.m. April 5 at the church.