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The measure of a man is the breath of those left behind and the strength of their journey.

In the case of my friend John Odlin the more than 350 people who showed up for his Friday funerals speaks volumes of the former and manner in which he dealt with the extended pain he endured one illustration of the latter.

And between us I think there were about seven commonalities 

Oh the stories.

They actually started Thursday night at a Polson Chamber of Commerce function where a former EMS worker in Missoula and I swapped spit about the Big Man.

For the better part of 30 years on the news side of radio and newspaper, I traveled pretty much daily in circles similar to Odlin’s and after seeing the picture, with his eye glasses low on his nose and him peering over the top, it gave me pause as to how many times I had seen the look and the lucky fact that most of the time it wasn’t directed at me.

I came to Missoula in the early 80’s to work in the bowling business where I first met John and his wife of more than 50 years, Ruth.

It immediately brings to mind the image of John lofting the ball out toward the arrows with a thud. Let’s just say even by that time the knees didn’t allow big-time bend.

Been there – done that. And the weight. Well between us I’m sure we lost more than 500 pounds over the years.

We both were softball players although I did most of my fast-pitch play in Spokane and I never took the helm of a Beachliner or school bus but of course we both were dear friends of Bob Beach and the family.

The Griz connection of course and Justice of the Peace is something I always considered several years because of John’s insistence.

The aforementioned firefighter and I laughed how John liked to push that HP cruiser to such a point that I only did a single ride-along.

But one could never meet a fairer, more understanding, yet still tough man given circumstances.

You were not going to con John Odlin who especially was strict about DUIs and Partner-Family Member Assault.

“Kind of broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hip but everyone knew ya didn’t give no lip to Big John … Big Bad John,’” goes the lyrics.

John first struck me just like the song and that old coal miner. Strong as an ox, faster on his feet than you might expect, gruff especially if us news types stepped out of line, and first to help where help was needed.

Unbeknownst he confided deeply in me behind that closed office door just off the courtroom and consequently whenever I could, I did likewise. My access was endless.

Fittingly the sounds of the Beach Boys took his casket up the aisle after he was memorialized by former Chief and Sheriff Doug Chase and retired MHP Capt Mike Frellick.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older, then we wouldn’t have to wait so long? And wouldn’t it be nice to live together in the kind of world where we belong.”

I must have touched base with 100 mostly retired officers which made me realize how out of touch I have become. Their kind words and support of this program are greatly appreciated.

The younguns’ have quite a tradition to uphold.

Yet the Odlin blue line is intact in the hands of sons Chris and Jerry, both Missoula City Officers.


Remembering Charlie

By Mick Holien

Charlie James made his mark on this earth long before publication of Sweetheart Magazine.

But the singles publication that long preceded the current horde to tease romantic or even platonic arrangements was the cherry atop his well lived life that touched so many.

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Early Halloween

By Mick Holien

A plethora of some of the usual Missoula historical characters spun life’s yarns on Sunday as grave sites at the Cemetery sprung to life for a few hours.

The annual Stories and Stones was advanced from near Halloween a few weeks both for the benefit of attendees and actors and weather couldn’t have been more cooperative.

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Precursor to Big Sky Play

By Mick Holien

If stats mean anything the Grizzlies ought to enjoy bringing Savannah State and what has been a porous defense to Washington grizzly stadium.

In losing games initially to Georgia, then up the hill in Boone, N.C. against Appalachian State, the Tiger defense has been anything but efficient.

And last Saturday they surrendered three touchdowns in four plays in the span of five minutes.

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Just Do It

By Mick Holien

It’s one o those things that some families have quite a difficulty dealing with but as we all age it is the most important thing we can do for our heirs.

Maybe like you, I put off formulating a will until recently and even several times took on-line forms and made out my own.

But after hearing stories from others I realized it just wasn’t fair to my family not to have this important item taken care of, just in case you know.

Besides a will your attorney more than likely will advise power of attorney and wishes of what to do medically in the possibility that you can’t make that decision on your own.

It isn’t that expensive (500 or so) and can be completed in a short period and distributed like to your Doc, the hospital, your heirs and of course the copy the lawyer keeps on file.

But it is one of those items I observe we procrastinate about.

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A Last Lake Trip?

By Mick Holien

Are you like me and hoping for even one additional day in the boat on Flathead Lake or have you settled into the opening of fall sports seasons and content to chalk up the summer to one of those rare smoke seasons that left the vessel moored and you and the family itching for some barbecue and maybe even a river day.

From my vantage point south of town yet looking out at the west side of Finley Point, the lake sometimes appears for just a period then is shrouded with drifting smoke only to clear later through the narrows and beyond.

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By Mick Holien

On this day 16 years ago, a day after of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the flight probably headed for Washington D.C., many Grizzly fans were stranded after arriving at various airports after attending the football game on Maui.

After losing to Hawaii, the team flew non-stop charter overnight but most fans, except for a few that accompanied the team, were left to catch later flights, some even in the air when the planes hit, others hooking up with connecting flights which of course was impossible.

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Why Not Play in Missoula

By Mick Holien

It getting more difficult as the year goes by to find non-conference football opponents at the Football Championship Series (FCS) level.

Several traditional opponents over the year, even most recently Liberty who picked off Baylor the opening weekend, have moved or are in the process of moving to the Football Bowl Series.

Of course it’s all about the money because not only does a program enhance their chances to eventually qualify for a bowl themselves nit they also stand to share in the league’s bowl proceeds and when your circuit is qualifying several teams that amounts to a considerable amount of coin compared to the FCS level.

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By Mick Holien

You have to hand it to offensive guru Chris Peterson, the former Boise State mentor who took the Broncos to national prominence and made the argument they had to be included in the Top 25 poll, something voters in the east weren’t easily willing to allow.

There are those coaches who, no matter where they hang their hat, seem to have the formula or maybe surround themselves with the right brilliant people to have success wherever they coach.

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A Must See


I went to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. back in my tournament bowling days but unfortunately that was before the construction of the Viet Nam wall.

And while I feel compelled to leave such a trip near the top of my bucket list, as the years go by it becomes unlikely that is something I will be able to accomplish.

But the next best thing is time spent at the Wall that Heals, a half-sized replica of the real thing that visits Kalispell starting Thursday

I can tell you such a visit is highly therapeutic whether or not you are a veteran or served in that God forsaken war.

266 Montanans were among the 58,267 who lost their loves in Nam, each one honored by a single line on the 250-foot structure.

A flyover at 9:55 a.m. will open the exhibit which comes to Kalispell today from Libby and will remain open, along with a mobile education center, until Sept.10.

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Smoke Gets in your Eyes


I resisted writing about it since I’m not much for negativity or complaining especially about things I can do nothing about.

If you ask me how I’m doing, you’re usually going t5o get an optimistic, positive response.

But damn this smoke.

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All Starkel


The Starkel family of Ronan had more than a passing interest to wait through a horde of college football games Saturday awaiting the key Los Angeles matchup between UCLA and Texas A & M.

You see the young starting quarterback for the Aggies also bears the Starkel moniker, Nick is the son of Maury, a Starkel who isn’t a potato farmer.

And as the “instant classic” game wound down with Starkel sidelined with a third quarter foot injury all one could think is what might have been or will be for that matter.

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Laboring Away


The Fashion Police would have been pleased in Missoula Saturday as not only did University of Montana athletic promotions folks encourage fans to participate in a rite of fall by wearing all white but the Grizzlies also debuted new all-white road unis.

And after a less than stellar first half Montana got the season’s train rollin’ and posted a workman’s-like second half hour to pull away from outmanned Valpariaso 45-23.

So with the ranked Huskies of Washington waiting in the Emerald City Saturday’s ending score appeared about as predicted but the Indiana squad, eventually probably affected by heat and depth, gave no quarter and looked anything but a bottom rung Pioneer League outfit.

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Now is the Time

By Mick Holien

All the anticipation of losing thoughts of a rare losing football season is plenty of motivation for a Grizzly team that looks to dominate a cupcake opener at Washington Grizzly Stadium Saturday.

But while the starting quarterback call goes to a senior who once was highly touted out of the state of Tennessee Reese Phillips is a guy who threw four picks in the spring scrimmage while connecting on 14 of 27 for 140 yards and hasn’t started under center in almost five years.


But for the time being the Kentucky transfer emerged in a battle with Caleb Hill and freshman Gresch Jensen.

Obviously Phillips is the only QB who has taken a Montana snap playing in four games last season with a season high five completions against Mississippi Valley State.

But if he maintains there are no butterflies we know he is sharing the company line. Last year’s experience and scrimmages are nothing like being the guy at the helm but admittedly the bar will be lower than in some seasons.

Maybe as good a baseball player as a gridiron product, Phillips prepped in Chattanooga where he was a two-time all state performer in both sports.

But after winning the state football title as a junior and making the playoffs as a senior when he completed 172 of 274 for 2,274 yards he enjoyed quite a post season being named MVP after hitting 10 for 10 passes in the state’s All-Star game leading his team to a 41-20 verdict.

A converted tight end and defensive back, he was an all-district baseball player as a pitcher and shortstop.

But after redshirting at Kentucky he was relegated to a backup role and although he played in three games as a redshirt freshman he played in just a single game in 2015.

Phillips has a single season of eligibility remaining.

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How can we not be emotionally affected by the images coming out of the Houston area?

One had to know it would be just a matter of time before predictions were accurate that a monster storm, long predicted, would strike land with such force but then the ensuing rainfall that beckons one to think of 40 days and 50 nights.

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One Satisfied Customer


No matter what the dilemma there is always a way to make things right or at the very least improve a poor situation.

And how a scenario is dealt with often determines whether that customer continues to do business with you.

It always is surprising and quite frankly disappointing to see how much a business spend to acquire a customer only to have a poor experience with an actually well meaning employee prompting the loss of business.

But there are better ways to make of poor judgment.

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Worth The Savings


The first of a couple recent interesting encounters I have to share with you to kick off the traditional opening of the college football season.

Both worked to my advantage but not without some head shaking on my part about a sometimes pure lack of common sense but being persistent and polite yet extra inquisitive paid dividends.

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Pete To Repeat

By Mick Holien

It bears repeating or does it? Who do you know that often seems compelled to repeat themselves?

Make up your own mind but my favorite is on CNN and you will recognize him without me writing his name.

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A Miracle

By Mick Holien

Stop me if you’ve heard this but I had a reason why I chose to move to Polson some dozen years ago.

The people are different I often have said much like they were when I relocated to Missoula and from Spokane in the eighties.

But my pal Emma Lommasson, at 105-plus, said what happened to me Friday night just was a miracle – pure and simple – so you decide especially given the circumstances.

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am I eligible?

By Mick Holien


It can’t happen to anyone no matter how well you believe you are versed in the NCAA rules determining eligibility.

And while every time I learn of such indiscretions, I remember how close I came to bringing down the same wrath on this broadcaster and the first 7 footer to play at the University of Montana.

Fortunately we got around it.

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It was a close call

By Mick Holien

It can’t happen to anyone no matter how well you believe you are versed in the NCAA rules determining eligibility.

And while every time I learn of such indiscretions, I remember how close I came to bringing down the same wrath on this broadcaster and the first 7 footer to play at the University of Montana.

Fortunately we got around it.

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