Remembering, in different ways, two lives well lived

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Bill Curl, Rick Gaille

We celebrated two lives well lived this week in two totally different ways.

On Sunday night and Monday, our former colleague and an outstanding high school coach, Rick Gaille, was remembered in the way we’ve known for years and years – a visitation followed by a funeral service.

On Tuesday night, a friend to everyone in sports in New Orleans and beyond, Bill Curl, was remembered in a way that was 180 degrees different from the two days before – a party at Rock ‘n’ Bowl.

Let me say up front: There is no right or wrong way to remember a passing of a loved one or to celebrate one’s life. The fact that we had chances to tell stories and reflect on the greatness that each achieved in his career certainly made each day memorable.

What was interesting to me is how similar, yet different, the professional careers of Gaille and Curl were.

First, the biggest similarity – both spent time at Tulane. Gaille’s one stint as a college assistant coach was with the Green Wave under Vince Gibson and Wally English from 1982-84. Curl was the university’s athletic publicist from 1966-74 and remained involved with the school in years after, serving on the football radio broadcast team and later on the athletic hall of fame selection committee.

The parallels didn’t end there, however. In 2010, each took a significant turn in his career.

The fall of 2010 was Gaille’s final season at St. James High School after 19 seasons as the Wildcats’ head coach and athletic director. He guided St. James to 170 victories and three trips to state championship games. Earlier that year, Curl retired after 33 years as the spokesperson for the Superdome.

What was interesting is their career paths effectively flip-flopped at that point. Gaille moved out of the prep ranks and into the media, doing work for prep game broadcasts and shows WGSO 990 AM and contributing to CCS and our previous iteration, SportsNOLA.

Curl moved out of the full-time PR ranks and working in preps, taking on a part-time position providing communications support to John Curtis Christian School, where his children had graduated several years earlier. Among other contributions, it was Curl who led the effort to promote Coach J.T. Curtis’ 500th career victory in 2011.

Perhaps it was not a coincidence that on Monday, we celebrated the life of Rick Gaille, and on Tuesday, we celebrated the life of Bill Curl.

Two days. Two great men in their own rights. Two totally different remembrances.

All part of the landscape of one great sports town.

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Lenny Vangilder

Lenny Vangilder

Sales/Content/Production

Lenny has been involved in college athletics since the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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