On a cool crisp Saturday morning, hundreds came to De Smet to remember the life of Jim Goessling. Goessling, a member of the school's Hall of Fame who was part of the Spartans' first state basketball championship team, was also a key De Smet diplomat as an alumus, serving as a Trustee and later on the Board of Regents.
He died last Sunday following a two year battle with colon and rectal cancer. He was 57 years old.
His family and friends gathered in the De Smet gym to celebrate the life of a man who could hobnob with famous folks as part of his role as a sales executive in the sports and media world, but wanted to know how you were doing, regardless of your role in the world.
Video: Jim Kennedy and Rich Grawer talk about the impact Goessling had on De Smet and others
"He had so many friends because he couldn't make enemies. He was just as comfortable with the guy directing traffic outside the Scottrade Center as he was with the many celebrities he was around," Jim Kennedy, a Goessling teammate at De Smet before going on to the University of Missouri, told the audience.
Kennedy was the one who went on to a Division I scholarship, but he called Goessling the De Smet MVP from their championship season that helped put the young Jesuit school get on the map in 1973.
Video: Watch this YouTube video prepared by Libby Herrmann featuring family photos.
By Bob Frederic's count, Goessling was in more than 50 weddings, had 15 stints as a Best Man, including more than once for Kennedy, and was the godfather to 6 children. All part of the drill for the man some called "America's Guest."
Jim Goessling wanted to know where the action was if he didn't know already, his friends said, and he helped people get there, often with tickets, or help getting a job, or school help. But back to those tickets---Kennedy recounted how Goessling was able to get him into Game 7 of a World Series without even one.
"The man was not just half full it was 3 quarters full and he was ready to step on the pedal and go a little faster because at the same time he may have been going fast, he was also enriching other people's lives just because he truly cared," his sister, Julie Goessling-Matheny told Patch prior to Saturday's memorial service. Julie and her brother Bob, coach the St. Joseph's Academy Girls Basketball team, and often had Jim on the bench and around the team.
Jim performed the tip-off when St. Joe's participated in the 2011 Coaches Vs Cancer tournament last season, after Jim had been honored with the organization's Survivor Award.
Julie said she's heard from several of her players who have been upset in tears over the past week. She told Patch that she hopes those players take examples away from her brother's life, not just to be better basketball players, but to live better lives and to live today, in the moment.
She returned to basketball when she addressed the crowd in the gym a few minutes later.
"If the scoreboard was on, it would show Cancer 28 months, Bubba 57 years. We can cut the nets down now, we can celebrate another state championship, for Bubba has arrived in heaven and in the memorable words of one of Bubba's dear friends, Hall of Fame announcer Mr. Jack Buck, "That's a winner."