For seven+ years, until about three months ago, I drove Danny Lotz over to Chapel Hill for a Men’s Bible Study each Thursday. In those 30-minute trips we would chat about all the sorta stuff a coupla baby boomer guys might talk about. Carolina’s poor free-throw shooting being a popular topic each January/February.
On one of those trips a few years ago, I had just posted one of my BobLee Eulogies for the father of one of my high school pals so we talked about eulogies. Six years of riding with a guy, ya get pretty personal with one another. I recall we were on I-40 at about the Southpoint Mall exit. Don’t ask me why I recall that triviality but I just do.
I said: “Dr Danny, the title of yours oughta be – And He Was Also A Dentist.” He looked at me with a “I’d like that” grin. So, that’s what it will be today – Wed. August 19, 2015.
That odd phrase was intended as a tribute to the rich full life that Danny Lotz led over 78 years in which his 40 years practicing general dentistry in Raleigh would be relegated to the “he also was” fine print well down the page.
In the more formal eulogizing tributes to Danny Lotz that will be forthcoming over the next few days you will learn of his being a member of UNC’s legendary 1957 basketball team that “beat Wilt” in triple-overtime and is credited with being THE spark that created the phenomenon of ACC Basketball. More about that down the page….
You will learn of his 49 years of marriage to Anne Graham a/k/a “Billy Graham’s daughter”. Hopefully the McClatchy’s N&O / CharlObsr will back off their vicious editorial attacks on The Graham Family for a week or so in respect to Danny’s passing…. or maybe not.
You will learn of the 30 years he led a Men’s Bible Study every Friday that averaged over 50 men attending each week. Men who were a mix of movers & shakers and just guys looking for Christian Fellowship. A lot of them will be sharing their memories.
Danny and Albert started another Men’s Fellowship in Chapel Hill 7-8 years ago. I nicknamed us “Anne Frank’s Attic”. It is a popular misconception about Chapel Hill being “about as Godly as Moscow”; so 50 or so guys getting together to study The Word might best keep it on the QT ….. Knowing that bunch a/k/a “Baby Boomers 4 Jesus”…. they will have something to say about Danny.
You will hear about Danny’s time and efforts over 50 years with FCA – Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He is in FCA’s National Hall of Fame (along our friend “Albert”). Every year FCA has a special national conference at Black Mountain, North Carolina that attracts some of the biggest names in coaching pro / college as well as dozens of current/former athletes in all sorts of halls of fame. This past year was the first one Danny missed in over 30 years. His diabetes and dialysis had simply worn the big fella down to where “getting around” was simply too much.
You’ll hear from the well-known and the unknown about their personal interaction with Danny Lotz over his 55 years “around Raleigh and Chapel Hill”. Wherever the memorial service will be held…. it better have plenty of seats ‘cause it’ll be full…. regardless of the weather. That was another on-going joke we shared on those Thursday drives.
“Regardless of what all you do in your life; the attendance at your funeral is going to depend upon ….. the weather.” My sense of humor is a bit more irreverent than Danny’s (or than most normal folks’) but he always seemed to enjoy that one.
When you are spending regular time each week with a man in his late 70s who has been in dialysis for over six years you can either pretend Life is Balloons and Circus Parades or that it is what it is and make the best of it. Me and Danny chose the latter.
Some of you’ans are probably curious about what Danny thought about UNC’s Never-ending “Great Unpleasantness”. Sure, we talked about that a lot as it evolved. Danny Lotz was a loyal Tar Heel…. but Danny was no naive C-Way Kool-Aid guzzling goober. Danny was a realist. Enough said about that. To Danny’s credit he never learned to use a computer so he never had to endure board monkeys of any stripe. One of the special blessings that God bestowed on Danny Lotz.
Danny, like most of us, worried a lot about the sorrying state of America and the world. If our nation’s leaders were doing especially stoopid stuff on a Thursday, Danny would be in funk when I picked him up. He never “blamed me” but always looked to me for answers. Uh oh…..
Danny Lotz knew The King Jimmy as well as anyone’s ever including his Father-in-law. He could quote chapter / verse of obscure Old Testament books that most folks don’t know even exist. He was as learned a Lay Theologian as ever knew Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
So here I am a back-sliding Christian on my best days…. having to counsul “Billy Graham’s Son-In-Law” on the inevitable Fate of Mankind. Over the past seven years, I’d like to have a nickel for every day I had to remind Danny Lotz…..
“Doc, you better go reread Revelation by John. It’s gonna get a lot worse before it gets any better.” ….. “yeah, I know” as he’d shake his big ol’ head.
Lets wrap this up with a bit o’ trivia that I WILL NOT ALLOW to go to the grave with Danny Lotz.
Danny was the 6th man on that 1957 team. He had been a high school legend on Long Island in the early 50s but was now on a team with other NYC legends a year or so older….. Rosenbluth, Brennan, Quigg, Cunningham and little Tommy Kearns…. coached by THE Frank McGuire.
Danny is the kid with the flat-top in the middle of the front row.
(With Danny gone…. I believe that leaves only Tommy, Joe and Lennie.)
ASIDE: I’m not sure where Frank McGuire “went” after his death; but if Frank is where I’m SURE Danny is…. Danny is gonna be shocked. Enough said about their stormy relationship. It is one opinion that Danny and Jackie Murdock agreed on.
So it’s the 3rd overtime versus Kansas and Wilt for the National Championship. If you are over 65, you recall where you were watching. Lennie had fouled out at the end of regulation so Danny was in the game. Kansas still had “the Stilt” so it looked bleak for the boys in blue….
I’m a tad fuzzy on a coupla details but it’s Kansas’ ball with less than 10 seconds to play. I believe UNC up by one. Everyone in Kansas City’s Memorial Auditorium knew KU would go inside to Wilt. McGuire had Danny and Quigg “down low” to do what they could to get in Wilt’s way
…. But Danny recalled a scouting report on who KU’s best shooter was from 10-12’. He saw that guy setting up “on his spot”.
….. Danny stepped out in get in his face…. leaving Wilt in single coverage.
….. McGuire screamed at Danny to stay back on Wilt.
….. Sure’nuf…. it was “that guy” (Ronnie Loneski) who would take the shot figuring UNC defenders would be double-teaming Wilt.
….. Danny gets a fingertip on the ball, deflecting it to a teammate (I think Bob Cunningham)
…. passes to Tommy Kearns who hurls the ball into the rafters.
…..when the ball came down Carolina was National Champions.
…. and Frank McGuire never said a word to Danny about “his savvy play” that WON THE GAME.
….. and he was also a dentist.
PS: With Dr Danny gone, I don’t know how I’m gonna keep up with Cardinal Gibbons’ football team. A little Lotz Family / BobLee inside story.