If you think really hard about it, you might remember the first time you tried to pronounce the name “Lutzenkirchen.” It might have been when your friend emailed you the link to that YouTube clip from his high school play.
“This guy is coming to Auburn,” your friend wrote. Then you spent the entirety of your next weekend cookout teaching each other how to phonetically pronounce his name.
But it didn’t take much longer than that. The boy from Georgia became an Auburn man and, just as quickly, became a fan favorite. Maybe it was the clean cut look, or the physical stature. Perhaps it was the calm way in which he always seemed to comport himself.
Maybe it was the style of play:
It could have been how he embraced Auburn that made you embrace him back. From beginning, to the middle, to the end. It could have been the charm or how he accepted what became his legend. And think about that for just a second: Here was a guy at — what, 19? — who became a legend. Look how he handled himself.
Maybe it was that you could see him around town, at Momma G’s, having Japanese or wherever you’d run into him, and how a guy who was such a BMOC was always seemingly so approachable.
Other things you knew mattered, too, even more important things: the prom story, how he gave of himself to others, the respect he earned from his professors or for how he stood for what he believed. Perhaps it was the graceful way he said goodbye or the sense of humor he had about his sibling Iron Bowl rivalry or his burgeoning professional work or his promising coaching career.
Maybe that is what it was. The promise that Philip Lutzenkirchen always showed and the way he seemed to carry it with ease, returning all of your smiles and War Eagles and even embracing that dance.
Maybe it was that he was so personable as to make it seem he was always all of ours, and the way it seemed to bemuse him, like he was always us, too.
Auburn lost a great one today, an irreplaceable one. Our thoughts and prayers are extended to his friends and family, who feel the loss most personally. As sad as we are, it is difficult to imagine your profound grief. We thank you for sharing him with us. We grieve with you over the loss of a great Auburn man.
Kenny graduated from Auburn at the turn of the century. He worked in newsrooms across the region and then earned a master’s degree at UAB. He met and married a Yankee, who declared her Auburn allegiance at her first home game. She’s now on the faculty at Auburn. He’s finishing his PhD at Alabama and teaches at Samford University. And he’s an assistant editor at The War Eagle Reader. See him online at www.kennysmith.org and @kennysmith.
Related: Philip Lutzenkirchen’s parenting advice.
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