Jesse "Red" Burditt wanted his funeral at night, which would allow his golfing buddies to get in 18 holes.
"He wanted to be the first," said longtime friend Hugh Seale, adding that after kicking the idea around for a couple of years Burditt decided it wouldn't be in everyone's best interest.
That was Burditt, always thinking of his friends, many of whom showed up Monday at Christ United Methodist Church to pay their last respects to the former Texas A&M athlete and Stephen F. Austin head football coach who spent more than 50 years making Bryan-College Station a better place to live.
"Another bright light in our community has gone out," said Seale, who gave a moving eulogy on the man who was his head football coach, then became a dear friend.
Burditt lettered in football at A&M in 1943, '46 and '47. He was a wide receiver, catching a 20-yard touchdown pass in the 1944 Orange Bowl, one of six catches in a 19-14 loss to LSU. Burditt was part of the "Kiddie Corps" as A&M had to play freshmen and sophomores because of World War II.
Burditt had his education suspended by the service, serving as a radioman for the United States Navy in the war. When he returned to A&M, he also played baseball and basketball for the Aggies, having quite a career. Burditt was inducted into the A&M Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003. He was one of only eight Aggies to earn varsity letters in three sports.
"I'd forgotten about that," said retired Rev. Morris House of First United Methodist Church in Bryan, who gave the sermon. "He never mentioned it to me, which spoke of his humility."
House knew Burditt for 53 years and considered it an honor to talk at his good friend's funeral.
"I like to read obituaries," House said. "They give you a view of the life of a person that sometimes is quite different than their own view.
"We do write our own obituaries, and he wrote a very interesting one."
House said it was one filled with faithfulness to his wife of 65 years, Elinor, his family, friends, and most of all his church. Burditt was generous with his time and he was sensitive when he needed to be -- though he was so quick-witted that if he was your friend, he had at least one nickname for you. In Seale's case, he had about 10. He hated to lose, and he loved the Aggies and the Bryan Vikings.
"He was a real man," said House, adding that it's all right to cry when you lose a friend.
There were plenty of tears Monday, but even more smiles and chuckles as Seale told several stories about the red-headed, small Burditt, who always wore a smile with his fedora and Coke-bottle glasses, and was so much larger than his lengthy obituary.
"I wonder what kind of obituary you're writing," House said. "I hope you can feel about it as I feel about Red Burditt. You can make your life count."
The 86-year-old Burditt made his time on earth count much more than most, which is why so many will miss him.