Column: Readers Check In

Turning The Forum Over To My Readers


Rarely has one of my columns received greater response than last week’s about Chris Prewitt, a truly remarkable man/husband/father/son/friend/educator/role model who was tragically killed at age 38 during a marathon training run when he was hit by a driver who has pleaded guilty to felony gross vehicular manslaughter while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


            MarxBrosAlong with sharing some of these heartfelt notes, below too are some light-hearted suggestions from readers regarding my recent non-presidential Mount Rushmores column.




From Larry Seguin: “Chris’ father, Choyce, is a friend of mine. We have lunch together with some other friends on most Mondays.


“At the beginning of March, Choyce brought Chris to lunch. It was the first time I had met him. An hour later, as we were leaving, I told Chris what an absolute pleasure it had been to meet him. I meant it from the bottom of my heart.


“I had no idea I would never have that pleasure again. I can tell you, from that one meeting, what an honor and privilege it was to have met such a wonderful young man. I can honestly say I will never forget him.”




From Tom Spence, a Mount Rushmore of Funny Brothers: “Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Zeppo (sorry Gummo).” He added a Mount Rushmore of Non-Related Comedians: “Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, George Carlin, Chris Rock.”




From Chris Lang: “I only knew Chris briefly in 1996 as a young man and coach of the Newbury Park High School girls’ water polo team my daughter’s freshman year.


“I am sure that in the next 18 years of his life he touched so many students and student-athletes, as well as parents, co-workers, friends and family. They all are better people for having known him.”




Julie Merrick suggested a Mount Rushmore of Beatles Songs: “Let It Be, Yesterday, Strawberry Fields Forever, and I Want To Hold Your Hand. (My thoughts today.)”




From Larry Baratte, who coached Prewitt in water polo (1993-94) and swimming (1994-95) at Ventura College: “Chris and I remained a part of each other’s lives twenty years after our first meeting.


“I knew him, loved him, and saw his great potential at an early age. He lived out every bit of that potential. Only the extent of his reach, in terms of the number of lives he personally affected, was cut short.


“Chris is gone and I, too, thought of all the future students who will miss the chance to have this man come into their lives and make a lasting impression. But I have seen evidence this week that his enduring message will continue in the words and actions of those very students that he touched. I find great comfort in this.


“My thoughts and prayers continue to center on his wife and daughter, along with his extended family. This void will never be filled for them. For the rest of us who knew him and loved him there is simply an overwhelming sense of loss combined with a feeling of great gratitude for having him in our lives.”




Dallas Woodburn had a complaint with my Mount Rushmores: “You didn’t include Greatest Chick Flicks – When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail and Serendipity!”




Prewitt’s legacy reaches far and wide, as evidenced by Dave Stancliff who wrote from Oregon: “So sorry to hear about what happened to this great man/artist. I didn’t need to personally know him to respect him. I knew him as Mr. Moore back in my school days. I still honor his memory.


“Mr. Moore was my fifth-grade English teacher. He helped channel my energy into something positive – writing. With his encouragement, I found a way to express myself. Not a good talker. No musical ability. Can’t dance. But, thanks to Mr. Moore I write . . . and write.”


Indeed, Mr. Stancliff was my very first newspaper editor and remains one of the finest writers I know.


If we are lucky, we all have our own Mr. Moore in our lives. For countless people, their personal Mount Rushmore includes Mr. Chris Prewitt.




Woody Woodburn writes a weekly column for The Ventura County Star and can be contacted at




Check out my new memoir WOODEN & ME: Life Lessons from My Two-Decade Friendship with the Legendary Coach and Humanitarian to Help “Make Each Day Your Masterpiece”