It was meant to be the final goodbye - a special celebration of the lives of two special men who impacted a school and a community. Mission accomplished.
It was standing room only Monday evening, as hundreds of students, parents, alumni, friends, family and community members packed into the Broken Bow Municipal Auditorium for a final tribute to Coach Zane Harvey and Coach Anthony Blum, killed in a June 1 traffic accident near Ansley. Hosted by Broken Bow Public Schools, Principal Ken Kujath had promised a â€śpositiveâ€ť celebration service, and that is exactly what it was.
Fellow teachers Bill Reichert and Mike Garner shared stories and memories of their two friends, some very touching and some very humorous. Garner got the crowd laughing with his take on David Lettermanâ€™s Top 10, by sharing his â€śTop 10 things I learned from Zane Harvey.â€ť
The list included such topics as: eating your fruits and vegetables will make you grow big and strong is not true; there is no limit to how much stuff you can fit on the seat of a bus; you can never listen to too much music from Skillet; and â€śIf a sweatshirt with cut off sleeves is good enough for Bill Belichick, itâ€™s good enough for Zane Harvey.â€ť
Reichert shared how he and Blum had become fast friends shortly after Anthony joined the staff of BBPS.
â€śAnthony Blum was my friend, but donâ€™t think I have exclusive rights to that title. Everyone who met him was his friend,â€ť Reichert said.
He talked about his golf buddy, noting that â€śAnthony was one of the best golfers around, and I am one of the worst,â€ť but that Blum always made him feel equal.
Some of the students also shared their thoughts on their coaches and teachers. Justin McCullough referred to Blum as â€śthe best teacher in the world.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m pretty sure every girl in our school wanted to marry you,â€ť McCullough said in reference to Coach Blum.
Nate Hanson shared how Blum loved to sing, and Hanson called him â€śthe best singer ever.â€ť
â€śI wanted you to go on American Idol so I could vote for you,â€ť Hanson said, as if speaking directly to Coach Blum.
Taylor Pearson referred to Coach Harvey as â€śone of the greatest teachers I ever had. He will be missed.â€ť
For many, however, the highlight of the evening was when Jane Blum addressed the crowd. With poise, grace and dignity, the mother of Anthony Blum shared about stopping in Broken Bow with Anthony while on their way to Sidney for a wedding. Anthony was looking for his first job, and he stopped to talk to Mr. Hogue. He was asked to come back the next day for an interview, so they drove to Sidney, back to Minden, then back to Broken Bow the next day.
She says her son was so excited when he got the job at Broken Bow.
â€śYou were willing to take a chance on an unproven teacher and an unproven coach. He was so excited to move here and start teaching and coaching,â€ť she shared.
She says Anthony and his younger brother Carson, who plays basketball for Minden High School, had Feb. 21 circled on their calendars - the night the two schools would meet on the court. Family members wore jackets sewn together - half red, half purple.
â€śA bond was formed between those two teams that night,â€ť said Jane. â€śAnthony felt so bad about the loss. I knew that night, he was a Broken Bow Indian.â€ť
â€śWhen you send your children off into the world, you hope they will love what they are doing and that they will be loved. Anthony had both. We thank Broken Bow for welcoming him and making him feel at home.â€ť
Scott Harvey also addressed the audience on behalf of the Harvey family, thanking the community for their continuing support and prayers.
â€śYou just continue to blow us away,â€ť he said, referring to the turnout for the eveningâ€™s event.
Scott then addressed the Broken Bow boyâ€™s basketball team. â€śThe best way to honor Zane and Anthony is to continue to work hard and grow to the potential they knew you had.â€ť
The basketball team presented the Harvey family and the Blum family with a framed picture of the two coaches and a basketball signed by all members of the team.
This was the final organized service planned on behalf of Coach Harvey and Coach Blum. The student bodies of Broken Bow and Minden, and the communities of Broken Bow, Minden and Hildreth now embark on a journey toward healing, and learning how to live without these two very special men as part of their lives.
For the past week, BBHS students have decorated the lawns of both coaches homes with flowers, signs and mementos. Bracelets have been made, ribbons have been hung, stories have been told and tears and laughter have been shared.
The story of the accident will now begin to fade from the headlines of newspapers, but rest assured - the memories of Zane Harvey and Anthony Blum will never fade.