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In Memory

Mike Needham - Class of 1965






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11/30/13 02:33 PM #1    

Bud (Hugh) St. Onge (1965)

Mike Needham—PHS Class of 1965

Mike Needham...

A classmate asked me about Mike Needham at a recent PHS Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Banquet held near Paramus. I really had no answer except to say that I last heard he was working somewhere in the rural northwest US. I did not know any more, but I wanted to know more!

The internet blesses us when we want to hunt information. This time it both informed and saddened me. I learned that Mike passed on quietly in his sleep on February 8, 2010.

Learning of his passing brought up some memories about Mike and his spirit that I wish to share here. Literally, the day my family moved to Paramus (Sweet Brier Place across from Petruska Park) in July of 1962 from Boston, MA, I met Mike. He lived just diagonally across the street. It took him about a minute to hear my Boston accent (paac the caaa in Haaavad yaaad!) and comment that I sounded like some bird who flew way off course and landed in Paramus. That “Bird” nickname stuck on me.

How very helpful for anyone who enters a new world of place and people to meet someone who welcomes you and introduces you to your new world. Mike did that for me starting with his football teammates. Those teammates became my teammates as my dream was to play organized football.

Mike and I lifted weights weekly in his basement “gym” for many months. Mike did everything with intensity and I learned this lifting with him.

We camped in Bear Mountain using a pup tent and bare bones equipment. It was obvious he loved the outdoors and the natural surround—he loved it! He passed away after living for years in a very rural area in Tensed, Idaho.

Mike loved football, and although he did not start for Paramus High School, he applied his speed and amazing ability as a fast and super agile running back. He played much.

I will never forget our senior year playing against arch rival Ridgewood away. The game was a gridiron war between two NNJIL titans. At one point Needham came in with a play—Boom Right! He carried the ball on that one and I shall never forget looking up after my block and seeing Mike make a cut and outrun everyone to the end zone! This was one of the few times playing I actually heard the roar of the Paramus crowd and reveled in it! Everyone on the team had a nickname. We called Mike “Old Man,” because he appeared to be slightly bow-legged. Maybe his ability to run and cut on a dime related to it. We won that game on that touchdown! Mike was a hero that day!

Mike was always an individual. He did not follow a pack, a group, or a fad. He did what he loved and did it his way.

Mike was a high school illustration for me that it is rich to appreciate someone who is different—someone who has his or her own inner tone and follows it amid the frequent clatter of many voices around proclaiming do this or don’t do that. Mike was a clear beam following his light and thus giving authenticity to his world.

Thanks Mike for being Mike! You were a blessing to me and I know others also. “Different” can rule and should more often in our world.

Bud, “Bird,” St. Onge Thanksgiving Day 2013

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