At 4 a.m. on the morning of football legend Merlin Olsen’s memorial service in Pasadena, California, his brother Phil said he felt an earthquake.”We figured it was Merlin getting his first quarterback sack in heaven,” Phil said.Merlin and other members of the Bear Lake Watch who died in the last year were honored at its annual meeting June 19 with a moment of silence.Merlin died March 11 of cancer. In Merlin’s lifetime he played for the Aggie football team, the NFL, had a successful career in television, was placed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982 and served as Bear Lake Watch president among other accomplishments.Phil said Merlin’s influence was felt globally, and his family received cards, letters and e-mail from people all around the world after Merlin’s passing.”Merlin was admired. He was well respected. He was loved,” Phil said.One of Phil’s friends living in China said a Chinese government newspaper printed a picture and story about Merlin and his life.Merlin went to Bear Lake every summer since the year he was born, Phil said, and was passionate about the lake. Working with the Bear Lake Watch came natural to him. Phil asked that those who knew Merlin to ask themselves two questions in remembrance of Merlin: what life lessons were learned from Merlin and what will they do differently as a result of knowing him.The Olsen boys grew up in a family of nine children, and athletic ability was a family trait.”We developed a lot of that athletic ability around the dinner table,” Phil said. “To get your share of food, you had to be quick and agile.”Merlin loved birds and would frequently bird watch. The day after Merlin’s passing, Phil said he was sitting on his deck, trying to comprehend what had happened. A red hummingbird hovered right in front of Phil’s face and then flew to a nearby branch.”I took it as a sign this morning that this was Merlin coming back to say, ‘It’s OK. I’m OK. Move on,’” Phil said.Merlin considered himself a normal person and didn’t like special attention. Phil said he didn’t like to ask for favors, nor would he read any manual. He liked to figure out how to do things for himself.Merlin was a “loyal Aggie through and through,” Phil said. He was honored in December when Utah State University named the Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium in his honor.Phil compared Merlin to stars, whose “radiance is visible long after they’re extinct.” Merlin’s wisdom and friendship will always be there, he said.”We’re gonna miss you, Merlin. We’re gonna miss you.”- firstname.lastname@example.org
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