DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Don Meredith is being remembered today for his athleticism, his wit and his loyalty to Southern Methodist University.
Meredith died Sunday in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was 72.
“We happened to be fraternity brothers and we had lots of good times together and played on a fraternity basketball team together” says Gerry York, Curator of SMU Heritage Hall and former fraternity brother of Meredith’s. They were Phi Delta Thetas.
“When he came to SMU he was probably as good a basketball player as he was a football player” says York.
Brad Bradley started taking pictures of SMU athletes in 1947. Bradley says his favorite picture of Meredith is one taken with his daughter and also he enjoyed taking simulated action shots with the players, posing as if they were running, throwing the ball or about to descend on a rival. One that shows Meredith about to toss the football is among Bradley’s favorite. “Well, I treasure them and it’s something we enjoyed doing and seems like the players enjoyed it” says Bradley.
The photographer says Meredith’s arrival on campus brought new optimism and excitement about the Mustangs football program. “It was during the years that Meredith was here that Dr. Willis Tate dubbed SMU ‘Southern Meredith University” says Bradley. “You just felt like with Meredith around, things would eventually be alright, and they were” says Bradley.
Meredith was a native of Mount Vernon, Texas, which is about 100 miles east of Dallas.
“Don was a free-spirit when he came to SMU, from Mount Vernon to Dallas, it was just like going to the moon for him” says York. “He had such a magnetic personality that if you were around him for a minute, you were holding your sides laughing. He was just a real fun guy to be around.”
York says Meredith was disappointed about never taking the Mustangs on to win the Southwest Conference Football Championship, but in 2008 SMU retired Meredith’s jersey and presented Number 17 with the Distinguished Alumni Award. After the evening was winding down, York says “at the conclusion he stood up by his table and sang ‘turn out the lights’ and it brought the house down.”
“I just know how he always loved the red and blue” says York, “he was always a Mustang and loved coming back to the campus.”