Wayne Joseph Kofnovec  
KOFNOVEC, WAYNE JOSEPH, age 50 of Whitney, passed away Thursday evening, September 5, 2002 at his residence. Funeral Services will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday in Kotch Funeral Home Chapel, in West, Tx.; with Rev. Ed Karasek, officiating. Burial will follow In St. Mary's Cemetery in West. Mr. Kofnovec was born August 6, 1952 in Dallas and was raised in Dallas. He graduated from Justin F. Kimball High School in Dallas in 1970, where he lettered in football and track. He also graduated from Northwestern State University in LA. He was employed with the Southern Plow Co. in Dallas for a number of years. He loved to hunt and travel and had been a resident of Whitney, Texas for the last ten years. Survivors include his companion and best friend, Jeannette Strickling of Whitney, a daughter, Derrel Ann Kofnovec of Georgia; two sisters, Jane Abbott of Ovilla, Tx. and Janice Thread of Midlothian; two brothers, Gary Kofnovec of Austin and Roy Kofnovec of Duncanville and a aunt and uncle Mary and J.D. White of Richardson; and several nieces and nephews and many friends. Memorials may be made to the Lowndes Middle School Special Olympics Fund; 2379 Copeland Road, Valdosta, Georgia 31601. Arrangements by: Kotch Funeral Home West, TX 254-826-5307
Published in the Dallas Morning News on 9/8/2002.

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I was good friends with Mike Sanguinet and Wayne during high school and I am so saddened to hear of Wayne's passing. Just like all of his other friends have commented, he was so much fun and really a nice person. He had a big heart and would do anything for his friends. My sympathies to his dear, close friends and family.

My best,

Caren Barnes

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I have really enjoyed reading about all of the fond memories that everyone has about Wayne. Even though I was not able to be a part of your senior season, I still have some outstanding memories of "Rhino". In those days, I would take great delight to see how long it would take me to get him mad, I enjoyed seeing him tilt that head downward and glare at me through his eyebrows......what a hoot......of course, it did not take long until he would forgive me and I would search for another method to get him upset at me (of course I took great pride in seeing the rest of you get mad at me too-----that is what made my day!). Then I would yell something good about the "Rhino" and he would paw at the ground with his feet and prance around like a "big stud rhino", and pity those that got in his way!

What an awesome memory that I have carried of him through the last 30+ years. He will be missed, and the only thing that will carry on his memory will be the tall tales that we will all tell about him and all of his escapades.......I just hope that we do not haveto write very many of these tributes in the near future........it would be great to see " the guys" some time. Bill has done an excellent job of keeping me informed about a great number of you. Hope all are doing well.

James Rust

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I did not have the amount of time to spend with Wayne as some of you did. I did not play on the offensive team during our senior year.... I was a defensive person only. I guess Wayne and I had that in common sense he did not play defense. After reading all the wonderful memories that all have shared it only leaves me with a few things that I remember that some may not have mentioned previously.

I remember after we lost to Woodrow Wilson I was allowed to play with the practice defense against the first team offense. As the huddle would break Coach Harlan would look at me and indicate directly as to which way the play was coming. As you can imagine some of the collisions are still in the archive of 'possible earthquake events' right there on Westmoreland. I never had so much fun since the first defense was used to beating up on the practice offense. There should be no question in anyone's mind that there was 'way more' talent presented by the Knights in the Woodrow game than what they showed us.

I do remember the squabbling between Wayne and Dickey, but one would need an interpreter to understand what either of them was saying. I do know that inside each of them was a love for the other one. Without Wayne there was no Dickey, and without Dickey there was no Wayne.

And that's all I have to say about that.

We all adored Wayne and he is gone. I feel confident he would want us to always carry the many memories he left us with , and even if he didn't, we are going to anyway.

Bill

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Wayne was one of the closest friends I had in my high school years . Besides the good times in football I remember once when Wayne and I went fishing at night at my grandmothers farm. it was midnight and we had caught a few catfish and we had walked through the fields to get to the fishing tank. But it was about 1 or 2 in the morning and we started home walking through the tall grass , about a mile from home and the coyotes started howling and running real close to us in the grass , they were almost brushing us in the dark. and Wayne's said in his loud voice will they bother us and I said nah , but I was thinking if they do I can outrun the big fellow and they will eat you instead of me.

Another time when we were juniors in high school during deer season , I think it was thanksgiving weekend , Wayne calls and says hey I Just saw the biggest deer in the world at Davy Crocket National Forest . He had hunted the day before. and he wanted me to go back with him to hunt this deer there. I had just turned my Dad s invitation to go hunting with him in south Texas. So he would be mad when I went with Wayne and he was. I called Steve Jones and he said he would go with Wayne and I hunting in the Davey Crocket National Forest. We got our tent and utensils together and sleeping bags. and set out for where ever it was. I still don't know. Anyway we finally made it there and Wayne was driving in the forest on the unmarked dirt roads. and he says here we are. so we get and unload our equipment and there were trees everywhere , so no place to pitch our tent , so Wayne pulls out an axe and says we will have to cut some of these pine trees. Sure in a National Forest!......well Paul Bunyan fell about three tall pines and we pitched our tent. It got dark and when the alarm went off we cooked breakfast and Wayne assured Jones and Me he knew his way to the hunting area. We left camp , in the dark walked for about an hour and finally Wayne admits we are lost . so we find a road and get back to camp somehow. Then later at camp Wayne says ok lets go I know where to go . so we go again . same song different tune, or whatever, we do the same thing again . we get lost . for another hour. we finally make it back to camp again, we wait until almost daylight , surely he will know his way now , same old thing the third time. this time when we get back to camp its really daylight and I says to Wayne where in the hell is this place and he says He just remembered which way to go . and that there would not be any one there but us three . well about an hour later we break into an clearing and all I could see were people sitting in orange vests everywhere and in trees. I thought hey a guy could get shot out here. besides there could not be deer here with this many people. well we did not see any deer except Steve Jones saw a doe. we went back to camp and shot ammunition at bottles and chopped on the trees we cut down in the forest. I think it is illegal to cut trees in National Forest. But Wayne said it was not so it must have been so. We had a good time that long weekend , no deer though, but a good time blessed with cherished memories that will last forever. Wayne will always hold a place in my heart forever.

God bless him..

Dickey Morton

Oh yeah???

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Wayne would be so happy to know that his high school friends cared so much about him.  His shared memories of his past high school and college years where football, track were always the top of his conversation and the happiest days of his life.   He really should have been a coach, as much as he loved sports.

I graduated from SOC and I use to tease him about our school being better than Kimball, oh would we get in some discussions. I graduated in 1966 and my sophomore year we went to State.  We lost to Houston Springbranch!

 Wayne was a caring and loving man and I will miss him more than anyone will ever know.  He kept me on my toes and we had a lot of fun together.

I am sorry I did not make it around to meet everyone at the funeral but do want you to know that Wayne was truly blessed to have friends like you.

There is a memorial for "Special Olympics" set up in Wayne's name where his daughter Derrel Ann teaches gifted and handicapped students, if you are interested, please email me jstrickling@brandteng.com.
 

Jeanette Strickling

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For me, he was. . .the Rhino, first and always, except when he was the Bohunk . . ., and I think there were other loving nicknames that would not be politically correct today. Even if he was a little set in his ways, he was always a treasure to be around. Firm and steady. Like a rock. I knew for sure that if I was with Wayne, nothing really bad would happen to me. Not to say we didn't get out there a little bit.... But nothing bad was going to happen with Wayne on your side.

I came close to death with Wayne, once. (Heck, probably more than once.) We had gone on a visitation to Baylor and he had driven us down there in his new yellow rocket, what was it, a cougar spoiler? (How could he ever have gotten rid of the "RHINO" mobile, that beautiful blue GTO?) We left Waco early Sunday morning after our  Saturday visit. Wayne gets in the car, pulls on a set of John Belushi style sunglasses (I guess Wayne was ahead of his time), says, "look out bugs!", and puts the pedal to the medal. Shortly, we are on the highway heading out-of-town at over 100 miles an hour. It was foggy that day. The "great state" was building a huge interchange on I-35 and somehow, we got past some barricades and were going up one of those long and winding bridges that you folks down there have, going real fast, and we can't see 50 feet in front of us. The significance of the barricades and other reflective material penetrates Wayne's consciousness (or was it my screams of fear) and he locks up the brakes, coming to a screeching halt about 15 feet from the point where this bridge ended, 70 or 100 feet above the ground. I always wanted to learn how to fly, Wayne did too, and we both thanked God it wasn't that day. . .And it didn't even shake us up, 'cause Wayne was in charge, so you just knew that nothing bad was going to happen. His force of character was so incredible! And what a character! Genuine. We were so lucky! Each of you has really caught and remembered our friend so well. You have brought back a part of my past that is very important to who I am today. For this, I thank you. For having known Wayne, I also give thanks. There are so many more stories about Wayne. . . when he taught me how to drink beer, his TuTu the Clown act in the water ski show, his manly advice, and on and on and on. Let me know with as much advance notice as possible if you guys get together. After October 25th, if you can.

 Garnett

PS I had to laugh about the descriptions from David Lee and Steve Jones about trying to cope with Wayne at football practice when they were on his team. Think what a relief it was for Britton and me when we got to Kimball and didn't have to play against him anymore, as we did at Thornton and Atwell. You think he was rough on you guys!

 

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Well, it's my turn to remember...
       My memories of my childhood are scarce and in many ways, far removed.  However, for some reason, when it comes to recollections about The Bull, they seem so much stronger....
       My first meeting with Wayne was in the 4th grade when he transferred to Webster from St. Elizabeth.  Besides his stocky frame, wavy hair, and extremely    
 

W-----------I---------------D------------E    feet,     (EEEE's)
 

what you noticed most about Wayne was his "bullhorn" voice.  With his now famous puckered lips, it didn't make any difference what he said, he had only one volume... Loud!
    Another thing about Wayne, you never had to ask his opinion about anything.  He was more than happy to gave it to you, and most of the time before you had time to ask ... and as usual, it was always, Loud and Clear.
       Well, one day, for some dumb and forgotten reason, Wayne and I got into a fight, better described as a wrestling match.  To my amazement, I drew an "Uncle" from the growing Bulgarian.  Fortunately for me, I never attempted any such dumb move on Wayne as we grew older.  Elementary school was the best.  Great Friends.  Great Football.  Great Fun.  You just can't communicate what it felt like to play "under the lights" at Sprague Field as a 7th Grader.  (football never got better than that).
       Through Jr. High, and High School, Wayne continued as the center of attraction to both student and teacher.  I can remember Durrett on the loud speaker talking about Wayne's "intestinal fortitude" to those people that didn't have the guts to go out for football.  And we all know about the many "discussions" Wayne would have with Dickie -- so well documented by Welch in his recent email.  And  reading David Lee and Steve Jones' emails brought back even more memories.  Some which might be revealed for the first time in this email.
       My favorites might be a discussion I had with Wayne in the boy's  locker room after a football workout.  It  was before our high school homecoming dance and it might have been one of Wayne's first high school dates.  I am pretty sure it was one of our first homecomings, because I learned that it was Wayne's first time to actually pay money to wear someone else's clothes, or as it is known ... rent a tuxedo. 
       Armed with this information, I asked Wayne if he had rented his tux yet.  He said not yet (also real loud), but that he would be soon.  In my reply, I asked if he was going to rent a "cumberbun."  (From the look on Wayne's face I could tell "cumberbun" must not translate into the Slovak language very well, because I could tell he didn't have a clue.)  So, in a helpful way, I took the opportunity to "splain" what a cumberbun was, "You know a cumberbun is a formal jockey strap, don't you Wayne?" wherein the ever-wise Wayne said, "I know that ... my Mom told me about them." 
       Wayne might not have known all the various accessories to a Tux, but he was a smart man.  Wayne, had more than his share of common sense, and because of it, he was a leader.  Wayne let his actions speak for him, never a braggart, but a winner you could count on. 
       Steve Pollard, Mike Sanguinet, Rick Garnet, and I had the good fortune of spending a lot of time with Wayne, and there was always something going on.  Many of my fondest moments with Wayne were also around the shot put ring where we would talk about everything.  Personally, one of my favorite personal memories was as a Sophomore when I placed 5th in the City in the shot-put.  Not that great until you realize that it was behind, National Champ Sammy Walker, State Champ Don Randle,  City Champ Wayne Kofnovec, and former pro football linebacker Wayne Bryant from Roosevelt.  And speaking of Sammy and Don, they were always playing practical jokes on Wayne.  Most vivid in my mind was the time they offered the "human eating machine" a donut early one morning in the car on the way to a track meet.  Offering  that donut to Wayne was like offering a banana to a monkey, it was quickly eaten and he was soon ask! ing for more.  What Wayne didn't realize was  that that donut's "yellow glaze" was not from the Lone Star Donut Factory, but from the Sammy Walker urinal. 
       I could go on and on, as most of you could, with Wayne stories.  That just shows you how special Wayne was.  He made things happen that were memorable, things you never want to forget.  Everyone knows Wayne was a great track, baseball, and football player, but it was his laugh, his incredible smile, his fast yellow car, his constant shifting of his body ... placing his weight on one leg while balancing his weight on the ball of the foot on the other leg then shifting again to the other leg -- that you remember most.  Wayne was every persons friend.  He made it a point to be friends with everyone.  He didn't like you because of what you owned, or what you had done ... he was like a big Mr. Rogers -- He liked you just the way you were -- a gift so few possess.
       It is hard to believe we won't be able to add new memories to these priceless memories from the past.  And as much as it hurts to see Wayne gone, the reality is, he just led the way to where each of us are headed, to stand before our maker, and that is something to think about. 
       But now that he has gone, I just want each of you to know that as I heard the theme from Bryan's Song, the story of Bryan Piccolo and Gale Sayers, playing at Wayne's funeral, I felt like Sayers when he spoke of his friend, because I had those same feelings about Wayne, "I loved Wayne Kofnovec."  We all did. 
       Lastly, I apologize for the long email, I hate long emails, but even if you didn't finish these ramblings I am glad I wrote them.  They have been helpful to me to remember my good friend Wayne and each of you.  I can honestly say, I appreciate each of your friendships more today than yesterday.  Thanks.

Peace,
John Ott
 

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Hey gang,  just wanted to share a few of my memories of Kofnovec with you guys. 

I first remember Wayne from little league baseball with the Optimist Club when I was somewhere around the age of 10 or 11.  No doubt he was the biggest and strongest kid on the team. Thinking back I don't remember Wayne ever just getting a base hit. It was always a homerun when he made contact. And if you can picture a bottle rocket blasting into the sky then you would have a pretty good idea of what Wayne's homeruns looked like. The baseball would be hit so powerfully and so far that the players would just stand in awe at the sight of it as it almost seemed to disappear into the sky. 

I next ran into this gentle giant at Daniel Webster on the football field. Yes, he could play football too and just him walking on to the field was intimidating for the opponents.  In the 7th grade we were playing Rosemont in the final game of the season at Sprague Stadium. For elementary school this was like the State playoffs. Towards the end of the game we were leading 14 to 12 but Rosemont had the ball on about our 10 yard line. Rosemont ran a sweep to their left and being on the opposite side of the play I watched Wayne take off from his linebacker position in pursuit of the poor guy with the ball. He destroyed a couple of blockers as he pursued and met the running back at the line of scrimmage. I know I was young and it was only the 7th grade but that was one of the more vicious tackles I remember throughout my football days. It was at that point that I made a conscious decision to always be on Wayne's side no matter what the contest. 

On to junior high........It was the first game of the season as 8th graders and of course Wayne was on the 9th grade team. Our opponent was Stockard. It was maybe mid-way through the first quarter when Wayne came to the sidelines with a jammed finger. To me it looked broken because of its contorted shape and I felt sure he was done for the night.  However, Wayne found the trainer, stuck out his hand and in Kofnovec fashion instructed the trainer to "straighten it out".  I almost fainted just watching but  Wayne didn't even flinch and then proceeded back into the game. 

High school........Now anyone who was there this particular day will never forget this event. It was off season for football and the coaches loved to see how much torture they could put us through. On this given day we were pairing up and boxing each other. It was all out with everything you had for 60 seconds. Actually it wasn't boxing but was more like street fighting with gloves on. Wayne was paired up with Bobby Joyce who had the fear of death in his eyes at just the thought of going toe to toe with Wayne. We who were watching could not stop laughing as Wayne chased Bobby, and as Bobby tried desperately to survive the next 60 seconds of his life. I believe Bobby to this day is thanking the Good Lord that he was able to survived "The Boxing Match". 

There was also the Saturday morning after a Friday night game that we discovered that Wayne was in the hospital. I know I hadn't notice any difference in his play but at some point during the game one of his lungs had collapsed. Once again I heard no complaints from Wayne. I guess he became a man while many of us were still boys. 

And of course there were always the playful arguments between Wayne and Dickey which might occur pre-game, post game or in the huddle. Most of us had difficulty following the subject of the arguments but it was entertaining to say the least. 

I lost contact with Wayne after high school but remember his presence at the 10 year reunion as well as stepping out of the elevator at the 20 year reunion and there bigger than life stood Wayne. I never was around Wayne that he didn't bring a smile to my face and that night was no exception.  And before the evening was over you could hear Wayne and Dickey going at it as usual. 

I missed Wayne at the 30th reunion and like those who knew him will continue to miss the Gentle Man whose side you always wanted to be on when push came to shove. 

Marc Welch 

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My memories of Rhino may bring a grin to your faces...
I didn't know Wayne as long as yawl did, but remember he was always in character, and a stand out. His laugh was so unique. Since most of my football memories were on specialty teams, it was during practice that I got to know yawl best. I knew you from our
opponents point of view by running their plays against our killer defense and playing defense against our kick ass offense. I still remember to this day the first time I tried to tackle Kofnovec head on. Tried is the operative word ... he ran me over like a freight train and I know first hand what it feels like to get hit by a Rhino on a dead run. He was not a guy you could bring down by hitting him high and later I found out he even fell hard if you hit him low and didn't get out of his way. Normally its the defense that gets to punish the offense, but Wayne dished it out each time he got the ball. Then he'd give you that Kofnovec smile and chuckle...
Steve Jones

 

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Mike McCain;Wayne;Mike Crutcher, David Lee at the 20th Year Reunion in 1990

I too have many memories of Wayne.

Like you, I went to Webster and he was intimidating in size but had a very gentle heart. Unlike you, I was always a scrub playing second team defense at Webster and Brown. On offense, Wayne used to get a kick out breaking through the line of scrimmage and looking for me (pee wee Lee) all 102 pounds of me. On defense, I was the lucky guy to run the plays of that week's opponent. Problem was, he was faster than me and he "crushed" me more time than I care to remember.

I recall when he faced off against coach Bruce Land in a wrestling match. Coach Land had a look of fear in his eyes as well.

As we all know, in addition to his football skills, Wayne was a nationally ranked shot putter. I can recall in many track meets, it was Wayne's show. Events would stop and he was in the spot light.

A very sad day for us all. But, Wayne would be proud to know that his passing serves as a reminder to us all that certain friendships and relationships are truly life long and it's not the gold in your wallet but rather the gold in your heart that counts.

Best to all,

David Lee

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It was a sad day in West, Texas this past Sunday. We laid Wayne Kofnovec to rest. The pallbearers that served so proudly were: Mike Sanguinet, John Ott, Jim Tinsley, Steve Pollard, Marc Welch, and Bill Britton. The bond that we formed back in high school was quite obvious as we all sobbed at the loss of our friend, yet we rejoiced that the bond was still there and that we still had each other. Randy Horton and Gene Hansen from the class of 1971 were present, along with Mike Crutcher. We all had a great time remembering "Rhino" and the stories could have gone on for hours. I am personally so grateful for the opportunity to know all these men and all any of us could hope for in life is that people will think as much of us as we did of Wayne.

Bill Britton

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Wayne and zee women at the 20th.