By Burt Constable
Universally beloved, all the time upbeat and a legend in suburban highschool sports activities, Bob Frisk’s tough entry into the sports activities part of this newspaper formed his profession.
As a member of a robust Arlington Excessive Faculty monitor squad, Bob’s relay staff botched a baton handoff and misplaced the race. This newspaper’s headline referred to “Frisk’s fumble.”
Bob by no means forgot that.
“I’ve tried to emphasise optimistic writing to all our full- and part-time reporters for all these years. I’m pleased with that legacy,” Bob wrote within the 2008 column saying his retirement from the Every day Herald, the place he began working as a highschool sophomore, was employed full-time after his 1958 commencement from the College of Illinois, and shortly turned a columnist and sports activities editor.
Bob, a longtime Arlington Heights resident who would have turned 84 in June, died Saturday on the Hospice Middle on the Lutheran Residence a couple of months after refusing remedy for most cancers.
“I’ve had an awesome life,” Bob advised former Every day Herald sports activities author Charles Dickinson and me throughout a chat earlier than visiting restrictions that saved Bob from being uncovered to COVID-19.
Bob cherished the concept of impressionable youngsters, devoted mother and father and caring coaches coming collectively to make one thing optimistic and much greater than a remaining rating. They usually cherished Bob for serving to them notice what is actually essential. Folks felt higher after studying Bob’s columns or chatting with him on the sidelines.
“Be optimistic, he all the time mentioned, as a result of these youngsters can have a lifetime of coping with negatives,” says John Radtke, the Every day Herald’s present highschool sports activities editor. “Bob was by no means one to shrink back from points, however as a substitute of increasing on the destructive, he had a beautiful method of providing options to negatives to show them into positives. Bob turned not solely a mentor, however an awesome buddy and confidant. His legacy will stay eternally.”
Editors could make enemies. Bob did not try this.
“After I joined the newspaper in 1970 as a younger reporter, Bob was the individual all of us regarded as much as within the newsroom. He knew everybody in the neighborhood, cared a lot about younger athletes and the sports activities part the place their abilities had been displayed,” remembers Douglas Ok. Ray, CEO and chairman of the Every day Herald. “I admired him via the years as he turned a mentor to all of us. We’ve by no means had anybody fairly like Bob and his influence on the newspaper is carrying on.”
Whether or not he was on the sidelines or within the stands, Bob drew a crowd of admirers.
“Bob wasn’t only a legend in the highschool sports activities group. His devotion to the well-being of the athletes additionally made him an inspiration to hundreds,” says John Lampinen, editor of the Every day Herald. “In our protection, he was dedicated to doing proper by them, and in his coronary heart, he delighted of their successes as a lot as any fan. Past all that, Bob was a pleasure to be round and an inspiration additionally to all of us who had the pleasure of working with him.”
His enthusiasm for teenagers, coaches, sports activities, the suburbs and the Every day Herald was real, says his daughter, Susan Alesia.
“He was that method on a regular basis. He meant it. It was all good, and that was fantastic.”
Bob was born in Berwyn, the place his mother and father, Don and Pearl, lived in an residence along with his older sister, Joann. The household moved to an residence in Evanston, the place Bob attended grade college earlier than their transfer to Arlington Heights. His junior excessive yearbook listed sports activities author as his profession ambition.
“Bob’s efforts have produced a litany of awards and honors, together with IBCA (Illinois Basketball Coaches Affiliation) Corridor of Fame induction, in addition to Corridor of Fame enshrinement from three native excessive faculties,” reads his biography for the Illinois Excessive Faculty Affiliation, which quotes Bob as saying, “Sports activities at this stage are nonetheless refreshing. I really like watching youngsters compete.”
His trophies, plaques and different honors had been essential to him, however not due to ego, says Tom Quinlan, a longtime buddy and retired Every day Herald sports activities editor.
“All these had been affirmations that he lived a superb life,” says Quinlan, who met Bob for breakfast each Saturday and was a frequent customer after Bob acquired sick.
“To actually respect Bob Frisk and what he meant to highschool sports activities and the Every day Herald, all you needed to do was tag together with him to a recreation. It did not matter whether or not it was softball or baseball, basketball or soccer, monitor or volleyball. Regardless of the sport, Bob would arrive on the scene and quite a lot of associates and acquaintances — coaches, mother and father, scorekeepers, announcers, athletic administrators, referees, officers, trainers and boosters — would spot him and are available over to say hello,” Quinlan says. “Earlier than Twitter, Fb, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok, Bob Frisk was our social media on the Every day Herald. Nobody was extra related. He knew everybody round highschool sports activities, and everybody knew him. And plenty of of those that had by no means met him felt they knew him — and his beloved grandson — via his insightful columns.”
Bob was pleased with his function in getting the Prospect Excessive Faculty Discipline Home named after his buddy Jean Walker, who performed an integral function within the passage of Title IX and placing ladies sports activities onto a extra even airplane with the boys.
Monitor was the one sport Bob participated in throughout highschool, however he rooted for all novice sports activities.
“His love of highschool sports activities — each girls and boys — was unconditional. He could not watch for every new season to start,” says retiree Jim Cook dinner, who labored alongside Bob within the sports activities division for 1 / 4 century earlier than turning into assistant vice chairman of promoting and promotions. “In hiring and grooming his workers, Bob’s optimistic perspective infiltrated our considering and writing. By no means a disparaging phrase about highschool athletes, solely positives. The children weren’t enjoying for cash, solely the love of the sport. And that is what Bob cherished. His vise-like handshake nearly made your knees buckle, and he punished his previous Smith-Corona typewriter keyboard, pounding with lightning pace and accuracy on deadline. Bob was your largest fan, most delicate critic and the rationale those that labored intently with him or for him, by no means thought of their life’s work a job. It was actually a privilege.”
An instance of his quiet management comes from the previous sports activities author and creator Dickinson: “I grew up studying Bob and the Every day Herald’s prep sports activities protection, so having him as my first boss was like clocking in on the Mount Rushmore of native journalism,” Dickinson writes. “Bob was the calm heart of all of it. ‘BF’ had given us nicknames, corresponding to ‘Cookie,’ ‘The Wisp,’ ‘Baron,’ ‘KR’ or ‘Stick.’ Bob would learn, edit and write the headline for every recreation story. On deadline, he had time throughout all this to put out the part’s pages and lift questions on gadgets in every story — whereas additionally laughing and joking and making upbeat observations a couple of prep sports activities world that we might argue wouldn’t have existed with out Bob and the Herald.”
Working beneath Bob’s path for 9 years left an influence of Paul Logan, who was the assistant sports activities editor till he left in 1976. “I’ve labored with many sports activities editors in 40 years, however nobody was as dedicated to highschool boys in addition to ladies,” says Logan from his house in Idaho. “He cherished watching younger folks competing for the love of the sport.”
When he retired, longtime Every day Herald sports activities columnist Mike Imrem reached out to his former boss to ask how he dealt with life after newspapers. “Nicely, amongst different actions like studying, he had lunch on this present day with that group of associates and on one other day with one other group of associates and on one other day with one other group of associates, on and on,” Imrem says. “Most of these teams had been composed of former coaches he had written about and had supported over greater than a half-century. He admired them due to how they helped younger folks construct character they usually revered him for the best way he chronicled their efforts.”
Bob’s spouse, Nancy, died of most cancers in 1992. He lived within the Arlington Heights house they purchased in 1964, till his latest transfer to the Lutheran Residence in Arlington Heights. Bob wrote columns of letters to his grandson, Mark, the kid of his daughter, Susan, and her husband, Tom Alesia, of Madison, Wisconsin. Along with the Alesia household, he’s survived by his older sister, Joann Frisk Svikhart, who lives in Utah.
Bob drew admirers wherever he went, and his memorial service will probably be delayed till the COVID-19 restrictions in opposition to crowds are lifted.