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Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

By Jesse Utz 

Thinking about those who gave

Jess Shut Up


This past week I received a wake-up call. That came on the same day that I learned of Eldon Wilson’s passing and of Duane Frye’s illness. These two men have given more to our community and nation than we will probably ever know.

Eldon sat beside me for many years at basketball games. While I was announcing the game, he was keeping track, running the clock and scoreboard. His heart was vested in Raider Sports; he had more passion for what was happening on the court than many of the fans and players who filled the gym. He took his job seriously and strove to be the best at what he did. I believe he lived his life that same way.

I know he took his service to his country that way. He was a proud military veteran. He took honor and pride in that. He was proud of his heritage, a Native American who took every opportunity to give back to his people. But what he was most passionate about was his family. A game did not go by when he would point out a relative in the game or in the stands and tell me about their accomplishments. Sometimes it was an elder, but most of the time it was a grandchild. He would beam with pride and that big smile would spread across his face. Sometimes he would have me announce, on a timeout, for the relative to come over and talk to him, and they always did, both of them smiling. Eldon gave so much in his lifetime. He gave to country, tribe, family and to Lake Roosevelt. I will always think of him when I enter the gym. I will see that smile and hear his stories.

Later in the day I heard about Duane. (As I wrote this, he was still battling for his life in the hospital.) Duane was a mentor to me. When I started in the Fire and EMS service he was one of the very active Emergency Medical Service personnel in the area. I went on many ambulance calls over the years with him. But that is not the only thing he did to give back. He was retired military and a reserve police officer. He volunteered with Raider Football. He is a family man. His grandchildren mean the world to him.

Every time Duane and I see each other, I address him as “Captain Frye” and he always responds by addressing me as “Hollywood,” our nicknames for each other. He gives me ideas for this very column and his critiques. Critiques that are always unique, just as Duane is unique. We have talked at least once a week, usually in the office at Lake Roosevelt, sometimes in Safeway, and sometimes at football games. We talk about his grandkids, his service career, football and other community issues. But I love to hear his stories about his time in the service.

Duane is very similar to Eldon in many ways. Pride in heritage, pride in Lake Roosevelt Schools, pride in family, pride in country, and giving all he had to them all.

But I don’t think either one of them would want me to write this about them unless I ended it this way. Do not miss out on the opportunity to talk to an elder. Learn from those who have lived the past. Seek out a veteran and talk to them. Love on your family. No matter the current situation, reach out and mend fences in your life. Take an interest in the lives of your kids and grandkids, help them as much as you can. Have pride in America and the people in it. Support Lake Roosevelt Schools in any way you can, and give back to your community.

These two men gave so much and they are both heroes in my eyes.

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