by Scott Boyle
With the sudden, staggering, and devastating loss of Blanding residents Kim Acton, Brian Bayles, and Eric Johnson last Friday outside Monticello, we all struggle to come to grips.
I haven’t talked with anyone in either Monticello or Blanding who didn’t have some part of their life richly connected with one or more of the three. They were integrally tied to all aspects of our beloved San Juan County culture and beyond.
Besides the incalculable loss to the families, we will miss these three decent gentlemen, whose lives ended so tragically, but whom we will always remember with fondness, love, and friendship.
Even though Kim was not one of the Chain Gang at San Juan football games this past year (he gave up the coveted job so his wife, Debbie, wouldn’t have to sit by herself), his spirited presence, spontaneous conversation, and genuine camaraderie on the sidelines and elsewhere will be truly missed.
Brian, always smiling, seemed to be forever standing near the north endzone of Bronco field and never failed to holler out a friendly hello, along with a teasing Monticello comment. The good natured banter was always welcoming.
Eric was constantly an easy going, friendly face to meet on the golf course. He was a gentleman on and off the course. I’m sure many, many young ballplayers, male and female, will long remember his superior tutelage on the ball fields of Blanding.
You don’t easily overcome the loss of three such extraordinary men. But the courageous people of Blanding and San Juan County will move on, the painful memories will soften, and we will remember with affection our connections with Kim, Brian, and Eric. Perhaps the playing fields of Blanding would be an appropriate place for such remembrances.
The Lindsey Chronicles
Lindsey Anderson, US Olympian, was part of the hauntingly magnificent opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. In part four of the Lindsey Chronicles, she speaks of the experience, plus meeting the president and other athletes.
Writes Lindsey, “The opening ceremony WAS AMAZING!! It was absolutely unreal, such an amazing experience to be a part of! And I didn’t even get to see the performances before the parade of athletes!
“Here’s how the process went. We had to be ready to go at 5:15 p.m. out in front of our dorm buildings. We loaded the buses at 5:30 p.m. to take us to the Fencing Hall, where we met President Bush.
“We were able to take our own pictures with President Bush, Sr. When we got a picture with the current President Bush, they were only allowing the photographer to take the pictures, so we have to wait for our team leaders to e-mail that one to us. It was crazy meeting the President of the United States!
“Even though it was extremely brief, it was so cool! Once we went through that process, we walked over to the gymnastics stadium where all the other athletes from all the other countries were waiting. We waited from 7:30 until 9:45, when they started lining us up in order to take us to the National Stadium (Bird’s Nest), where the Opening Ceremonies took place.
“For the most part, we were in air-conditioned buildings, except when we left the building to march out on the field. It was incredibly hot inside the Bird’s Nest, but we were all too excited to really notice much.
“After the ceremonies Josh (McAdams -BYU steeplechaser) and I very luckily caught up with Tom Kirkland (of KSL TV) and had a brief interview, which I think aired on the news just after the ceremony ended.
“It was unbelievable as we came onto the field! Such an incredible feeling!! Right before we exited the tunnel, the whole USA team started chanting: ‘USA... USA.. USA ...’ It was SO COOL and just gave me chills!
“I can’t really describe what it was like to be an athlete marching in that parade representing the United States. It was unreal!
“I also LOVED how they lit the torch! When they raised the guy off the ground, we weren’t really sure what they were doing, but once he started making his way around the stadium it was awesome!! Anyway, needless to say, I didn’t get to bed until about 1:30 a.m.
“It was a late night, and I did have to stand around for a while in the hot, uncomfortable, humid air, but... I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!!! It was incredible!!
“I also met and took pictures with The Utah Jazz gang (Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer)! These guys are so awesome and down to earth. I was able to talk with them for a short bit and they were so genuinely interested and excited for me! It was awesome!
“They even knew who I was and when I introduced myself, they said, ‘Yeah, the steeplechase, right?’ I thought that was way cool!
“As we were eating lunch today, I saw Andre Kirlienko walk by with another Russian basketball player, so I had to stop him and get a picture! It was great!! He was excited to talk to me and Josh, being Utah Jazz fans and everything. He was really nice and it was great!
“On our way back from the track, Josh pointed out to me that today is the day when all cars with license plates ending in an odd number can drive. So they have odd days and even days when people are allowed to drive! I thought that was interesting how they did that.”
Lindsey runs in the trials of the 3000 meter steeple chase on Friday, with the finals on Monday. Send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.