He Was…Marshall

When the movie, We Are Marshall, starring Matthew McConaughey came out, I immediately heard several of my Paulists priest-friends mention that, one of their own, Fr. Bob Scott, CSP was the Marshall football team’s chaplain. For those not aware, the story of the movie concerns the events surrounding the plane crash that involved the entire Marshall University football team in 1970. That crash took the lives of not only an entire team, but several of Hunington, West Virginia’s leading citizens, who were big boosters for the team. It was devastating for the entire town, a college town that the university plays such a major role in.

Fr. Bob was the team’s chaplain and had been traveling with the team. But he had taken the previous week off from his parish duties to be with the team and thought better of taking a second week off to travel with them. That decision saved his life and he ended up ministering to a town overcome by grief. Injured players who didn’t travel, girlfriends of players, wives of coaches, parents…all were met by the kind eyes and empathy of Fr. Bob Scott, CSP. It was indeed tough for him as he dealt with his own survivor’s guilt, but he soldiered on and eventually became a big help to the new head coach Jack Lengyel, who converted to Catholicism with Fr. Bob’s help.

Yesterday, Fr. Bob went home to God at the age of 91. He not only served at Marshall but was a long-time presence at the University of Texas where he served well into his 80s.

I interviewed Fr. Bob for BustedHalo® some time ago and he was just a wonderful joyful man. The audio of that interview can be found on this podcast—and there’s just something about hearing his voice today that brings me comfort. But a summary of the interview is found here as well.

Rest in peace, Bob. I’m sure the Marshall and the Texas football players are lining up for a tunnel at the pearly gates for you to run through!

And here’s a great clip from the movie:

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2 Comments

  1. I have one fond memory in particular about Fr. Bob Scott, while he served in Austin, Texas.

    About ten years ago, he was at Mass with a much younger priest presiding.

    For some reason there were no pews at the church that day, just removable plastic chairs like you would have in a meeting room.

    At the very beginning of Mass, the other priest immediately starts to apologize for the lack of pews and says “You may have noticed we have no pews tonight….”

    Before he could get any further Fr. Scott interrupts him and says in a dramatic, booming voice:

    THE PROTESTANTS TOOK THEM!

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  2. Fr. Scott could break a whole room up with laughter at any moment.

    I recall him saying “We Irish are banking very heavily on God having a sense of humor!”

    Evidently he could play a mean game of tennis against people in their mid-20’s just a couple of years ago.

    He will be sorely missed around Austin, Texas. Great guy.

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