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Harry O Fought to The Final Whistle

Lombardi's Way Harry O Fought to The Final Whistle

Posted in Lombardi's Way

Harry O was a regular participant in “Letters 2 TL”.

It’s that mailbag that brought us together.

Harry made me feel relevant, like my opinion mattered and was somehow more important than his.

It wasn’t…

“Letters” connected us in the cyber world and eventually paved the way to a friendship in the real world.

The first time I met Harry he was a custodian for Safe Management during Ravens training camp at McDaniel College. I was both flattered and humbled by his affinity for our work but that wasn’t the reason we became friends.

It was Harry’s passion that I found to be so endearing – passion for his family, his friends, his Ravens Nest 14, his country, and of course the Baltimore Ravens.

He fought his cancer passionately fueled by his faith. Not long ago he wrote to me.

“I thank the Lord every day, for the good things that come my way and just ignore the bad stuff. My Pastor, Fr. Joe Lacey tells me all the time, ‘Harry, when you wake up just grab the good stuff.’ And I do.”

By chance Harry had the opportunity to meet John Harbaugh recently and Harbs, a man of faith and strong convictions as well, probably saw the same in Harry. The connection was immediate.

Harry often reminded me of Coach Harbaugh’s words and how they helped fuel his willingness to fight his cancer.

“Coach grabbed my hand and told me, ‘Harry, you are gonna beat this.’ I don’t know if I will but that was a great pregame speech!”

Harry suffered greatly during his last couple of months but he fought courageously driven by love for his family and of course the pregame speech.

Harry’s lovely bride Audrey kept me current on my friend’s progress and it became very obvious that Harry would lose the “game”. Audrey described one of their last moments together.

“I don’t know how he managed to do it but Monday night I crawled into his hospital bed and he was able to put his arm around me and give me a good hug. We talked and I asked him if it was all worth it and he said ‘oh, yes.’ I asked if he had any regrets and he emphatically said ‘no.’ What a gift that was and a comfort to have my boy back for a brief time.”

To read that was a gift to me as well.

In death we often have regrets.

TL and HarryI wish that we had that summer swim after training camp that we often talked about but never did. I wish you had the strength to have that lunch to tell me all about your Day of Greatness sponsored by the Nathan Chris Baker Foundation. I wish that I could see another of your Facebook posts.

I wish I could answer another of your questions in Letters 2 TL.

And most of all I wish I had said, “Harry, I love you!”

I will miss you my friend and I will always be grateful that you reached out to say hello in Letters and begin a friendship that changed me forever.

You were one of a kind and I will never forget you.

Instead of saying goodbye I’ll say; “I’ll see you later.”

And you know I will!

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin to being John Bonham. Follow Tony on Twitter @RussellStReport. More from Tony Lombardi
16 comments
Nick the Greek
Nick the Greek

Great story about a Great Man. All of SSA misses him.

RBS
RBS

Thanks for your blog about Harry O'. Father Lacey described him today as 'enthusiastic'. I think that was a fitting one-word description of the man we loved and called 'friend'. His visit and chance to meet Coach Harbaugh meant so much to him; he shared his joy about that with everyone.

JSB
JSB

Very well written Tony you can tell it came from the hart. Harry was a good and humbled man . From the very fisrt time I met him thru the Ravens Nset # 14 he was my friend. REST IN PEACE MY FRIEND HARRY"O" REST IN PEACE. To your family my deepest prayers HE WILL BE MISSED BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN

JB
JB

Thank you Tony that was well said and you could tell from your hart. Harry was a good and humbled man . Loved his Baltimore Ravens and all associated with them. I met Harry "O" thru the Ravens Nest #14 and from the first day I met him he was a friend. REST IN PEACE MY FRIEND HARRY "O" YOU WILL BE MISSED!!!!

Scot K.
Scot K.

Well done Tony. I had the chance to meet Harry when I used to belong to the same Raven's nest. Although I did not get to know him as well as you did, it was obvious he was an outstanding person in all respects. R.I.P Harry!

CoRavensFan
CoRavensFan

I was fortunate to meet and become friends with Harry through Ravens Nest 14. Even after I moved from Maryland to Colorado seven years ago, Harry still kept in touch with me. I will miss you, my dear friend.

Captain Dee Fense
Captain Dee Fense

It's stuff like this that really put sports in prospective. I ran into Harry a few times during my travels around Raven Country. A great guy indeed. Thanks for sharing Tony

Mike S
Mike S

Thank you Tony for saying what we all feel "I love you Harry"!

Mike P
Mike P

Tony - Thank you - a beautiful article. Harry was a very special man.

ColV
ColV

Tony, thank you for reminding us about the great people in this world, spent 30 years in the military and have seen all of it. You brought tears with this wonderful piece. You were blessed to have known him. Thanks again Tony

JerryB
JerryB

Tony, your humanity, kindness & decency are an inspiration to all of us who know you & follow you through your blog! Sorry for your loss, my friend!

Todd Jones
Todd Jones

Great words about a great guy but I must argue that Mr. O. never lost the "game". In fact I would say his was a great victory. Cancer never took his Spirit, never made him any less of a man, a husband, a father. Death was waiting for Harry from the moment he was born, cancer was merely the means by which that inevitable fate came about. Nope, cancer didn't take any victory from Harry, he wouldn't let it have the satisfaction.

Melanie O'Sullivan
Melanie O'Sullivan

Tony, thank you for such a touching tribute to my father-in-law. He told everyone about his meeting Coach! That day brought him such joy! I am certain that by now, everyone in heaven has heard about his special day!

Brian O'Sullivan
Brian O'Sullivan

Thank you, Tony, for your beautiful tribute to Dad. He touched the lives of many, and it's humbling to read memories and tributes from so many people I've never met. We will miss him, but I know he is now at peace in heaven, no longer suffering. I, too, look forward to seeing him again one day, and know that I will!

jws
jws

TL, What a GREAT story that I too can relate too being 72 years old this October.I have not had cancer but have many other health issues. bUT MY WOFE HAD CANCER AND SHE HAD A 6.5 TUMOR REMOVED DURING THAT TIME AND ALL WERE SO BRAVE SO GREAT IN SO MANY POSITIVE WAYS. YOU ARE SO LUCKY TO HAVE KNOWN AND BEEN FRIENDS WITH THIS GREAT MAN YOU JUST WROTE ABOUT. WE ALL DOOUR BEST TO ENJOY LIFE EVERYDAY AND I'M SURE HARRY'S LOVE AND PASION FOR NFLFOOTBALL AND TEH RAVENS BROUGHT HIM MUCH HAPPINESS AS IT DOES ME. GOD BLESS HIM........

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