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He had a great summer

On Sept. 11, Berkshire County lost one of its finest people when John Codey Jr. succumbed to pancreatic cancer. On that day many of us lost a dear friend.

Name a sport and he not only played it and played it well, but he probably officiated it also. He was one of the most respected football officials in New England, having worked high school games and eventually the Div. 1 level of college games for over 30 years.

He always had control of the games that he worked, and his fellow officials always looked to him for guidance and advice. John was an organizer, a leader and a take-charge kind of guy who never could say no to helping youth sports or getting involved with various fundraising projects.

He was a founding member of the local Jimmy Fund chapter, which raised money for cancer-stricken children and also the Pittsfield Hoop Club. He didn’t join fine organizations to help people, he initiated them.

Last March, cancer threw a penalty flag at John “Parrott” Codey. He was not given 15 yards, he was given six months.

Like he has been doing his entire life, he picked up the flag and rolled with it. He did not go skydiving, mountain climbing or start riding mechanical bulls, he started planning. He had to, he was on the clock.

He decided there would be no treatments to prolong his life, the time that he had left was going to be orchestrated by the best organizer that he could find, and that was himself. He was going to have a good quality of life and enjoy his last summer.

His friends would not let him do it alone, so they got involved. First his fellow football officials got his yard and fallen leaves under control and his friends’ wives worked on the flower beds – under his close scrutiny and supervision – so he could enjoy his time at his lakefront home.

Then they tossed a party at the Sideline Saloon in Pittsfield for John that drew so many people the fire alarm went off. The bar did not have a great afternoon because nobody could get to it.

Former Pittsfield High School and North Adams State College hoop standout Bill Sarmuk, longtime friend and teammate drove up from Connecticut, fought his way through the crowd, gave John his best wishes and headed home.

“Thanks for letting me know about the gathering, I would not have missed it for anything. John is a special friend,” he said to Chairman Bob Tucker on the way out.

John himself had actually made some calls to friends to make sure they knew of the event. It was the first call I ever received from someone inviting me to “their wake.” Not to miss a chance to help others, John made sure the hat was passed to benefit the Pittsfield Hoop Club at his tribute.

John made sure to call another lifetime friend, Mike Mancivalano, now living in Texas.

“If you want to see me, you better get here before the end of the summer,” Mancy was told.

Shortly after the call, he was having coffee with John and his buddies at McDonald’s on West Housatonic street talking about the old times. John always had a way of getting people together.

In lieu of treatments and hospital trips, John elected instead to attend sporting events of his grandchildren, get some good cigars, enjoy his Wednesday night “Live on the Lake” concerts on his modest boat with his wife of 45 years, Pat, and make a few profitable trips to Saratoga Race Course.

Recently John let it be known that his loyal, faithful and constant companion, 90-lb. bulldog Max, was in need of a bath. It was either call out the U.S. Marine Reserve or try to solicit a friend to take on the challenge. Connie McMahon obliged and should be recovering soon.

As always John had to get things done, at least until the final horn sounded.

There wasn’t a funeral home in New England large enough to accommodate the anticipated reaction to the sad news of his passing, so St. Mark’s Church handled the calling hours. If you passed by during the viewing you would have thought it was free hamburger day at Five Guys Burgers and Fries, as the sidewalks were lined with friends saying their last goodbyes.

In lieu of flowers, the Codey family requested donations in John’s name to his many causes. The funeral parlor in charge of receiving the donations has received over 1,300 checks and they are still coming in.

John Codey Jr. was always there for friends, family and needy causes, and again proved he had a knack for getting people together.

What are we, and Max, supposed to do now?

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Posted by on October 4, 2012. Filed under Berkshire Sports Guy,Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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