36 years ago today, in the wee hours of the morning, our family lost this fine, young man. He was only 24 years old at the time, the same age that my daughter is now. I was only 21.
I looked up to Steve. He was my older cousin who I was very proud of.
Steve accomplished a lot in his short life. At the time of his death, he was certainly already a legend. I am proud of all of his achievements as a runner, but also for his activism and outspokenness.
He was never too busy to call or visit his family, or to sign autographs, especially if it was for a child.
I love what he wrote on this "Norman Rockwell-like" photo:
"Rocky, Thank you for holding my string. Maybe someday, I'll be holding the string for you.
Your Friend Always, Steve Prefontaine"
Steve had lots of string holders! This photo, circa "the 70's" is a snapshot in time, of another era. He is wearing Nike shoes, the first athlete ever to do so.
Although Steve is gone from us, his spirit lives on. Young athletes who were born years after his death, look to him for inspiration. Steve's sister Linda wrote this tribute:
"It is very hard to describe. We are so used to the physical body that so many times we forget what truly is the heart and soul of an individual. It is his spirit. We spend so much time worrying about our appearance, our physical bodies, and yet that’s not what lasts for eternity. It is the spirit that lives forever. You are the perfect example of the power of the spirit. Your body perished in a moment. The world was no longer privileged to watch your artistry. but your spirit survived and continues to thrive, and grow, and you leave your mark on someone, somewhere, every day. Although your body was limited to time and space and boundaries, your spirit knows them not. From the West Coast to the East, from Canada to Mexico, Germany, France, Italy and places afar, you touched the souls of many."
Delores this is a beautiful tribute to your cousin, Steve!!! Kathysue
Beautiful tribute Delores. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for sharing those beautiful photos and sentiments. Your cousin is a true national treasure. A wonderful tribute on Memorial day.
Oh, I am sooooo sorry that you lost him, but I love your tribute....I have read much about (and watched both movies)your beloved cousin--such giftedness. God blessed his short life with a talent & spirit that lives on even today!
On a happier note: A late Happy Anniversary to you!!!!
What a nice memorial post. Wonderful memories for your family.
absolutely beautiful memories ...
we lost a cousin who was 16 when I was 20 ... like you, we will never forget
Amen! What a beautiful tribute. Blessings~Ames
Such a beautiful tribute, I googled him and what a star he was, the first star to wear Nike..very cool guy, I can't imagine the family loss you all had.
What a wonderful tribute to your cousin! How proud your family must be to have been blessed with him!
It's so sad...the good die young! What a terrific young man your cousin was and how proud you are of him. Thank you for sharing this wonderful tribute to your cousin with us and the legacy he's left! Hope you're having a nice MD.
Delores, Your proud tribute to your cousin brings back many memories of him. My husband and I watched Steve many times on tv when he was in the Olympics and other races as well. He definitely was and is a legend in the racing world.
What a lovely tribute to your cousin, Steve. Same name as my brother, also deceased, your title caught my eye. May your memories comfort you, always!
Wow, when I clicked on your blog today, I was amazed. You see, I grew up in a little town near Coos Bay, Oregon. I'm the same age that Steve would be. My girlfriends and I used to see him around. Then, I moved to Eugene (and I still live right outside) and followed his career. I've been around through Steve's career, the advent of Nike, met Mr. Bowerman, etc. So, I really know what a loss this was to not just your family but to all of us. Thanks for the wonderful tribute.
A touching tribute to your cousin. I think you will like to know that Steve has been mentioned in our home over the years! Dan went to high school with Steve. Actually, Dan was 2 years younger, he was in the same class as Linda. Small world, yes?! Dan also went to the UofO. I remember years ago watching the movie made about Steve and being so sad for days after. He seemed such a wonderful person. Such a great loss.
What a beautiful tribute to Steve. He sure had a loving family. Always in the heart is a nice place to be.
This is a beautiful tribute to a remarkable man. Steve's sister got it right when she said his spirit continues to inspire everywhere. Here I am on the East Coast and a poster of "Pre" hangs over my treadmill to motivate me each day I run. Thanks for sharing your memories. Maureen
It's amazing how a heart can ache after so many years, isn't it? A remarkable man in a remarkable time...making memories that will last through many lifetimes. God bless- xxoo Diana
Delores, what a beautiful tribute to your cousin and yes, I remember him as the first Nike athlete. I was just about 7 years younger, but I and everyone I know knew who Steve Prefontaine was. He was truly a treasure.
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Delores, Beautiful, (Tear)
This was beautifully said and I am sure he is looking down on you all,(Smiling)
My Sisiter in law is a pretty big part of Nike...a big wig with the company! We love the wonderful perks added to her position :)
Steve wore those Nike's well!
PS....Hope you had a beautiful weekend.
thanks for sharing and keeping his memory alive!
Today has been a very sad day here in our town- our friends son was killed this morning . he was killed when he went into a farm corn silo and was crushed to death, he was going to be a senior next year.
It makes no sense does it.
That was a wonderful tribute.
Wow...what a wonderful tribute...and Steve is a HUGE inspiration to my son Blake.
God Bless Pre.
I'm so sorry for your family... he is a grate inspirations for us!
How awful it must have been when you had to go through the death of your cousin, Steve. My husband is a big Pre fan. Actually, a poster of him is framed and hanging over my right shoulder right now. He ran tracke and is a big fan. When my husband ran in high school, a guy stopped in the parking lot selling a new running shoe he had desinged. The guy called them Nike. How connected all our lives are.
PS the second string holder cracks me up! I'm glad I was a teenage in the 70's.
What an absolutely wonderful tribute to a wonderful young man.
Such a beautiful tribute and touching story.
thanks for sharing this meaningful post.
*** Sooo beautiful... the man AND his spirit...
Linda in AZ *
loved this tribute.
Life passes by
in a heartbeat,
but a soul lives
a soul your cousin
Delores, I remember watching him run! He was taken from this world way too soon. But, his sisters words are true, his spirit will always live on. This was a beautiful tribute to him. XO, Pinky
I loved Steve! I followed his career when I didn't even follow sports. What a privilege for you to have grown up with him. He remains unique in sports where our heroes become tarnished and disappointing. Thank you for your uplifting post. Ann
I had never heard of Steve until by son started running cross country his freshman year of high school (in Texas in August) Steve was a big topic of conversation at our dinner table and a big influence on my son.
Steve left his mark on this family in Texas for four years and beyond.
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