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Geoff Calkins of the Memphis Commercial Appeal has written a story about former Arizona Wildcats player and assistant coach Josh Pastner and his relationship with an elderly Memphis high school counselor who recently died from pancreatic cancer.
Ruth Fischer befriended Pastner, the head coach at Memphis, in November after she learned she had pancreatic cancer. Pastner reportedly phoned Fischer often to check on her well-being before she passed away.
I know first-hand that Pastner’s acts of goodwill are genuine.
When he was an assistant at Arizona under Lute Olson in 2006, I contacted Pastner about having him sign a poster to give to my brother Hector for his 50th birthday. Hector, the oldest sibling in the family, suffers from a mental illness and is a special-needs patient near St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tucson.
He is the biggest Arizona fan I’ve ever known by far. He believes Arizona will go to the Rose Bowl every season no matter the circumstances.
I covered Pastner and the Wildcats for The Arizona Daily Star when Arizona won the national title in 1996-97. I knew Pastner on a personal level when I made the request, but that did not matter. If I contacted Pastner out of the blue, he would have shown the same character.
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Video: Josh Pastner Plays Defense on Sideline http://t.co/aU7yTUsYHG
A day after I made the request, Pastner got a hold of me and told me the poster was waiting at the basketball office. The poster was personally addressed to Hector and signed by Pastner and, incredibly, Olson, assistant coach Jim Rosborough and a couple of players who happened to be in Tucson (Hector’s birthday is in May, after the school year).
That immediate gesture by Pastner with help from Olson, Rosborough and the players floored me. Pastner told me to let him know if I needed anything else. I left it at that because that act of goodwill was more than enough.