The perfect man for the perfect job

Never in my life, have I ever seen a person more suited for his job—and vice-versa—than Mike Korth.

I mean he loved his job. His life was his work.

That’s the image I will always have of Mike, that long gait of his striding across the University of Texas campus, a ring of keys jangling at his side, counting his every step, off to solve another problem.

He loved that place and in turn, they adored him. He was a hard worker and more importantly, a caring person.

After a lifetime battle with cancer and strokes and a succession of health maladies, Mike succumbed after a fall last week, just shy of his 50th birthday.

It angers me that one person should have to endure so many health issues in such a short life.

Because he was so much younger than me, I did not know Mike in school. I went to school with his oldest brother Wilfred and middle brother Glen was in my class.

MIKE KORTH 1962-2012 MIKE KORTH 1962-2012 It wasn’t until we were both working in Austin that we became friends.

As a member of the media, I spent a lot of time on campus near the football, track and baseball fields and it was difficult not to notice Mike.

The word “ubiquitous” was surely coined to describe him.

He knew who I was and our Rockdale connection made me someone he was going to take care of—just because I was from Rockdale.

He always saved the best parking spots for me, no event was closed to me and a prime seat was always made available, if I didn’t already have one.

If I had to walk across campus to catch some football player coming out of class— never fear—his golden chariot golf cart saved my shoe leather.

Everybody knew him. Everybody liked him.

When I moved back home, he was one of the first ones to contact me and we became e-mail pals.

He kept me up to date on his medical status. He never complained and he was always completely optimistic.

When I did a story about him a couple of years ago, he wasn’t crazy about the attention and told me, “You must have run out of people to write about.”

When he was named honorary referee at the 2009 Texas Relays, I was there. So was DeLoss Dodds, Jody Conradt and Olympic track coach Bubba Thornton, who presented him with an original Texas Relays stop watch.

“I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Mike Korth,” Thornton said.

When he was inducted into the Rockdale Sports Hall of Honor last year, he wasn’t sure if his doctors were going to allow him to come.

“I’ll be there no matter what,” he said.

He received a standing ovation as he made his way to the podium with a cane, Texas cap affixed firmly on his head.

As you would expect, there was a heavy UT presence at the service, so much so, they chartered a bus to haul all the people down here from Austin.

And as you might expect, the only song played Monday morning was—you guessed it— “The Eyes of Texas.” It brought a much-needed ray of sunshine to close out the ceremony.

Former Texas track coach James Blackwood made a joke at Mike’s memorial that when Mike reached the pearly gates, they were locked, but never fear, Mike had the keys to open them.

Never a truer statement has been made.

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2012-08-23 digital edition

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