My only connection with Rich was we are both members of Mariners Church in Irvine, CA where his memorial service was held today. He knew me as Vince Ferragamo's friend and we would see other briefly in passing maybe 2-3 times a year at church or at Vince's charity golf tournament every June. Here is a picture I took of him and Vince clowning it up prior to starting the tournament in 2010.
The services was attended by over 1500 people and we heard from many friends and family. There were many former teammates in attendance and a partial list includes Vince Ferragamo, Fred Dryer, Al Cowlings, Dennis Harrah, Tom Mack, Jackie Slater, Wendell Tyler, Mel Rogers, George Andrews, Ed Chevallier (equipment manager) and Ed Arnold (sportscaster).
It is fitting that his former teammates made up a very small percentage of those in attendance today. It says a great deal about Rich Saul, not as a Pro Bowl NFL football player, but Rich Saul as a person, husband, father and grandfather.
The story was recounted how he became a Christian while playing with the Rams and many more stories were told about how many lives he touched. He touched mine and he barely knew me. His life story is one of inspiration that transcends football. It is a story of a man that introduced his wife as "My lovely wife Eileen" to everyone. It is a story of a man that loved his son and daghter and his grand kids and was a role model to them. It is a story of a man who came back from a terrible knee injury in college to become a recurrent Pro Bowler. It is a story of man who didn't say "Why me?" when he was first diagnosed with cancer in 1999. It is a story of a man who took on that cancer diagnosis and worked with and made personal appearances at kid's cancer centers instead of feeling sorry for himself.
Here are some links related to Rich followed by the memorial program. Most of the stories recall his playing days. I will remember Rich as a Christian who cared more about his family and others more than I will remember his playing career. It was a pleasure to have known him and to be one of many that were influenced by him.
New York Times ESPN You Tube Caring Bridge Childhelp.org Beckstrand Cancer Foundation