Gifts from an Absent Friend

By Teddy Allen

 

I learned life the hard way, I took all my knocks and lumps

But when I look back down the road at where I’ve been,

I can see that all the things I’ve done in this ol’ life have been more fun

’Cause I shared them with someone who was a friend.

 

 —  “A Friend,” written and recorded by Jerry Reed (and featured in the movie W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings, which you should watch ASAP)

 

Few people if any enjoyed being themselves as much as Jack Brittain loved being Jack Brittain, or “Britt” as his friends called him, and he had more of those than you can find grains of sand and beer bottle tops at the Redneck Riviera.

 

This is the biggest weekend of the year for locals in my line of work; it’s the annual Louisiana Sports Writers Convention and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration in Natchitoches, where Britt has served as unofficial mayor for decades. You can find out more about the weekend and how you can enjoy it at LASportsHall.com. You can find out more about Britt by asking anyone in Natchitoches or in the LSWA.

 

A piece of work and then some, this guy.

 

So, it was a profound and unwelcome sadness when Britt, our LSWA brother, died two weeks ago at age 67 after a short and surprising illness.

 

He was the red on the candy cane, the helium in the balloon, the sunshine through any cloud.

 

His attachment to the LSWA was solid and eternal, even though Britt was a lawyer and financial planner. He didn’t write any stories. He was the story. 

 

He was so good at St. Mary’s that he’s in the high school’s Hall of Fame, then he lettered four years in football at Northwestern State before law school, but shoot, lots of people could do that. What set him apart was a heart and smile big as centerfield, his uncanny ability to see the best in people and the brightest side of things virtually all the time. He went around lettering every day in life, a seed-sower of joy and laughter and earthy charisma. 

 

One of those ‘girls want to ride in his boat, boys want to be his best buddy’ kind of dudes.

 

It’s hard to describe the impact he had on the LSWA and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame because we don’t have anything to compare him to. He was just always there, a part of, a calm in a sometimes-stormy sea of egos and chaos, a smile to calm the tide.

 

In 2017, Britt was the recipient of the LSWA’s most prized honor, the Mac Russo Award, given to an individual who “contributes to the progress and ideals of the LSWA.” It was my lucky and treasured honor to present it to him. If memory serves, I said something clever like, “Here Britt; sorry it took us so long. We’d give you a half-dozen of these if we could — and you’d deserve everyone.”

 

“Think where man’s glory most begins and ends,

And say my glory was I had such friends.” — W. B. Yeats

 

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu