Sunday, April 18, 2010

Farwell to Our Dear Friend: Will Chamberlin July 9, 1952-April 9, 2010

The Georgia running community suffered a huge loss recently. And this week, our dear friend and long time Georgia running advocate, Will Chamberlin, was laid to rest.

Anytime we suffer a loss it is hard to take. But when someone is taken from us suddenly and before his time, it makes it even harder. For those who ran the Run and See Georgia Grand Prix races, you may have been there or heard when Will Chamberlin suffered a stroke at the Hogpen Hill Climb in January. We kept up with his progress and knew Will had been doing well since his stroke and even directed his first race recently, which made it even more shocking to hear that Will passed quietly in his sleep on April 9th.

For those that knew Will, you knew that he loved running and putting on races. He approached every race as his gift to the runners who ran his races. He stressed perfection and always wanted to do the right thing and wanted the runners to do the same, as anyone knows who did not turn in their finish card after a race. And he cared, he genuinely cared about the runners as his words “have a good race, have a safe race” reminded us before each one of his runs and at the end of each run his resounding voice encouraging each runner by name and telling them to finish strong.

Will’s life was celebrated at a memorial service at the church he loved where those who knew him best shared stories of what we all loved about Will and what we will remember most. But for those who only knew Will by his races, it was a chance to know more about what made Will get to each race early and carefully plan each detail down to the bullhorns for each volunteer. I think the story that summed it up best was shared by the Associate Pastor, Reverend Julie Thompson who shared a quote that she saw on Will’s refrigerator at his home that said “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal.” For Will, it was his courage to take risks is what mattered most. The courage to follow his heart and do what he loved was the gift that Will gave us all. Those of us who knew Will and ran in his races are thankful that he did.

Please share your thoughts and stories to help us celebrate Will’s life as we say goodbye to our beloved friend.