Glenn Truesdell has a different memory of September 11, 2001 than most of us.
That is, of course, the day the World Trade Center towers were taken down in New York City, the Pentagon was attacked, another plane was hijacked and crashed in Pennsylvania, and just about everybody remembers where they were and what they were doing as these horrible situations unfolded.
I was asleep, coming off a long shift at this newspaper and then watching television into the wee hours, trying to unwind a bit.
For Truesdell, 9/11 will be the day he cheated death. He went to CGH Medical Center in Sterling with some chest pains, and while there, had a massive heart attack. It was a 100% blockage of the left anterior descending artery.
The LAD artery carries fresh blood into the heart so that it gets the oxygen it needs to pump properly. If blocked, the heart can stop very fast, which is why this type of heart attack is called a “widowmaker.”
Truesdell needed to be flown by helicopter to St. Anthony Medical Center in Rockford as quickly as possible, but there was a major stumbling block. The 9/11 attacks resulted in all air traffic across the United States being grounded. Truesdell and his family needed to secure many, many different clearances before he could get what turned out to be a life-saving trip and medical care.
“The only people in the air that day were me and George Bush,” Truesdell said.
Today, Truesdell is a feisty 76-year-old who is still subbing as a teacher at Rock Falls High School. On Tuesday, Glenn Truesdell, his son Mark, and myself teed it up at Rock River Golf and Pool for the latest installment of Links With Locals.
Glenn Truesdell was a teacher and athletic director at Rock Falls High School a good chunk of his adult life, and if there was a stud athlete to be worked with, chances are they crossed paths. He coached baseball, football and softball at the school, and is a member of the school’s hall of fame.
Among the baseball players he groomed was Dan Kolb, who was in the Major Leagues from 1999-2007 and pitched for the Texas Rangers, Milwaukee Brewers (twice), Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates. He was an All-Star for the Brewers in 2004.
Kolb played 2 years in high school for Truesdell, as well as 3 years of American Legion baseball in Rock Falls, which helped Kolb get drafted by the Rangers in 1995.
Kolb never pitched for Truesdell’s favorite team, the Boston Red Sox. Born in Boston, Truesdell was a vendor at Fenway Park as a kid. He sold frosty malts there in 1961, the year hall of famer Carl Yastrzemski debuted with the Sox, and has been a fan ever since.
Truesdell and his wife of 57 years, Kaye, have three sons: Mark, 52, a teacher at Rock Falls High School; Scott, also, 52, who owns a business in Columbus, Ga.; and Aaron, 47, a carpenter who lives in Rock Falls.
Mark Truesdell is entering 18th year as a teacher at Rock Falls, and wears many teaching hats there. He teaches economics, AP government, sociology, psychology and American history.
Like his father, Mark is a coach. He’ll be entering his 17th season as head coach of the boys and girls cross country teams, and 10th as the girls track & field coach. A baseball player in college at Western Illinois University, he also coached nine seasons at the fresh-soph level under current coach Donnie Chappell.
Mark and his wife of 27 years, Jennifer, have two children, Zac and Jenna.
Zac is a graduate student at Howard University in Washington D.C., and teaches a freshman biology class there. During the height of the pandemic, he taught that class via Zoom from Mark and Jennifer’s house in Sterling.
Jenna Truesdell is a junior at Northern Illinois University.
As for the golf on Tuesday, it was more about good conversation than grinding over a score. We had a few birdies, more than a few pars and bogeys (or worse), and solved some of life’s problems.