By Mick Holien
Separated by some 40 miles and a decade in age the recent death of two men dominant in their chosen profession certainly left influence in their communities but in vastly different ways indicative of their chosen life.
Predictably Ty Robinson was a Grizzly and Ed Bratton of Ronan cut his teeth as a Bobcat.
The 102-year-old Robinson was a Missoula icon while Ed Bratton’s, 93, mark as the long-time County Extension agent were reflected in the rural farmlands and ranches of Lane County.
Predictably my love for the two men centered on Grizzly radio.
When moving to Polson more than a dozen years ago I described Ed as “my favorite Bobcat,” while Ty was the oldest Griz letter winner having played basketball from 1936-39, the final two years for court namesake Jiggs Dahlberg and pairing with Hall of Famer Bill Lazetich and familiar athletes like Chawkey Miller and Paul Chumrau, who started the Century Club.
I’ll always remember him waving to the hoop crowd receiving a blanket and letter jacket situated on the south end line.
Many words have been written since their passing but the commonalities they shared – though there is no indication they knew each other – profoundly influenced my life.
With Ed there was “ Whiskey night” on Tuesdays when a group would converge on his house, probably much to the chagrin of girlfriend Clara, spending about an hour, trying to be sure we did get in the way of planned television, sharing an unwritten brotherhood.
Thanks to his son Dick it continued to “Iced Tea” night when Ed’s health didn’t allow spirits.
I don’t remember how I met Ty and didn’t share a beverage with him but it probably when I covered the courthouse and met fellow partner Sherm Lohn, the two representing two-thirds of the pioneer law firm of Garlington, Lohn and Robinson.
But he never forgot me or me him and no matter how long it had been between encounters he never failed to reach out to me sometimes even beckoning me from across the room like he did upon receiving a prestigious award from the Boy Scouts of America, a celebration that filled the ballroom at the Hilton Garden.
I had not seen him for a time and as I reached for his hand I started to introduce myself but quickly his retort “Mick Holien,” he said with a strong hand and a smile.
Both men’s lives bore deep contributions to their fellow man and the communities in which they resided.
Ed was a trickster and loved to have new “victims” show up on Tuesdays so he could lead them around the house and show off his gadgets.
The way he was made me wish I would have known my own father and his brothers at that age.
Ty certainly made the most of his years on this earth being involved in seemingly every noted project or cause.
He defined community service and his leadership attributes drove many efforts to fruition.
These were men of purpose and objective who plainly led “good lives.”
Recently when UM President Seth Bodnar came to the Village Senior residence to visit Emma Lommasson, 106, he and Head Football Coach Bobby Hauck stopped at Ty’s table where a few seniors were playing some penny, or so they said, poker.
But as I was leaving I stopped as well after he called my name and got my scooter tangled with his wheelchair and the poker table much to his and fellow player’s chagrin.
Son John told me at the funeral that to Ty I represented the institution he felt so deeply about. I can’t imagine a greater compliment.