Harry Bockman died on October 26, 2013 at age 89.
Once upon a time, UofL students could attend basketball games for free, and Harry was the gatekeeper to the student section.
His domain was the ramp at the northwest corner of the venerable old arena. To gain entry, students had to flash their student ID to Harry, and woe be unto you if you tried to sneak a friend in along with you. Harry would have none of that.
I can still remember the day that my friend Doug Allgeier and I snuck in the materials to construct a massive paper airplane that we would release from the upper reaches of Section 314 in an attempt to reach the basketball court. Fortunately, Harry didn't catch us, but we didn't succeed either. So I guess we were 1 for 2 that afternoon.
While reading his obituary, I learned some other fascinating things about Harry that you probably didn't know:
- he fought in World War II and participated in the D-Day Invasion of Normandy
- he received the Purple Heart upon completion of his service
- he attained his undergraduate degree at UofL, where he was also an undefeated All-American track and field champion
- he dropped out of graduate school at the University of Kentucky in order to work for the UofL Registrar's Office; he worked there until he retired
- he was a longtime member of the Chain Gang at UofL home football games (Howard Schnellenberger took that role away from him, to Harry's great consternation and longtime disdain)
We knew about none of this. To us, Harry was just a gatekeeper - someone who seemed to derive undue pleasure from making it hard for students to do things that students aren't supposed to do. But with the benefit of hindsight, it's clear that he was just doing whatever he could to help the school that he loved.
Harry spent his last few years in an assisted living home run by Presbyterian Homes and Services of Kentucky, Inc. He enjoyed living there so much that he participated in the short promotional video embedded below.
All of us who attended UofL are better for having known him, even if only as the Student Section Gatekeeper.
RIP, Harry Bockman - you were a true Cardinal original.