Storytelling and laughter highlighted Max Falkenstien’s Celebration of Life ceremony
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Storytelling with lots of laughter and fond memories highlighted Max Falkenstien’s Celebration of Life at the Lied Center on the University of Kansas campus Saturday afternoon.
Falkenstien, who broadcast University of Kansas football and men’s basketball games for 60 years, died July 29. He was 95. The approximately 1,000 who attended Saturday’s ceremony were a who’s who of friends and colleagues honoring Falkenstien with his wife, Isobel, and children Kurt and Jane and grandchildren and great-grandchildren present. Included were past and current Kansas Athletics staff, Jayhawk Network past and present broadcasters and engineers, many former football and basketball coaches and players, state legislators and sports executives.
“In my last text exchange with Max, a couple of days before he passed, I said ‘thank you for being such a great friend, such a great mentor’,” Kansas volleyball coach Ray Bechard said toward the end of his presentation. “He replied, ‘Ray boy, remember me with smiles.’”
"In my last text exchange with Max, a couple of days before he passed, I said ‘thank you for being such a great friend, such a great mentor’"Kansas volleyball coach Ray Bechard
Prior to the program, those in attendance were treated to a one-on-one video interview with the celebration emcee Bob Davis and Falkenstien talking about many of Falkenstien’s highlights during his 60 years of calling KU athletics. Davis spent 24 years calling Kansas football and men’s basketball with Falkenstien.
“When we would return from road games from wherever, coming back from Maui, New York, Miami or Alaska or somewhere in between, we’d let Max out first, usually, and he’d always say, ‘boys, we had some laughs, didn’t we.’,” Davis said. “It didn’t matter whether we’d win or lose, we’d have some laughs.”
Kate Falkenstien was the first of six speakers during the ceremony informing the crowd of fond memories about her grandfather.
“I’m here to talk about who he was on a smaller stage, where in my family he was just Pawpaw, or father or a husband of 70 years.” Kate Falkestien said. “Pawpaw loved meeting people. Whenever they approached him, he loved being recognized and he loved talking to people.”
"Pawpaw loved meeting people. Whenever they approached him, he loved being recognized and he loved talking to people."Kate Falkenstien
Falkenstien loved to play sports, mainly golf and handball. In fact, it was mentioned by friend Larry Hatfield that Falkenstien played handball until he was 90 and a half years old. Hatfield and Don Green represented Falkenstien’s handball group and both told a handful of stories about the many memories the group had.
“Our group always looked out for each other and we miss Max greatly,” Hatfield said. “We do have enough memories to tell Max stories forever.”
“I know that all in our group strongly feel that our group was more special because we had Max there because of the kind of person he was,” Green said. “We were better with him there and we are going to feel much diminished now that we have lost him.”
Former Kansas associate athletics director Jim Marchiony became friends with Falkenstien as soon as he joined the KU staff in 2003. Marchiony told three driving stories he had experienced with Falkenstien.
“I did sign up (to drive Falkenstien to kidney dialysis the past few years of his life), and you know why? Because I cherished every moment I spent with him,” Marchiony said. “Every road trip, every chat in the Allen Fieldhouse media room, every lunch over the years – at Morningstar’s, Culvers, Runza, Biggs, Biemers, Montana Mikes. Boy was he mad when Montana Mike’s closed.”
“He was a gift and maybe the greatest gift was that his mind stayed so sharp until he passed,” Marchiony added.
Bechard was next to speak.
“The opportunity to stand in front of all of you today is pretty humbling and overwhelming when you consider the depth of Max’s buddy pool,” Bechard said. “The infinite number of friendships he developed. Friendships which span generations and encompass all walks of life.”
Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self was the final speaker of the program.
“I, like everyone before me, am humbled and honored to speak about Max and what he meant to so many,” Self said. “Isobel, Kurt and Jane, as everybody said, we appreciate so much you sharing him with all of us because he has obviously played a role in our live in some way, shape or form.”
"I, like everyone before me, am humbled and honored to speak about Max and what he meant to so many. Isobel, Kurt and Jane, as everybody said, we appreciate so much you sharing him with all of us because he has obviously played a role in our live in some way, shape or form."Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self
As the patrons exited two of Falkenstien’s favorite songs were piped into the Lied Center. Both, “Stars and Stripes Forever” and “Home on the Range”, are tunes played following Kansas football and basketball games.