In Memory of Fungo (Luke Bell)

...for Luke Bell, aka "Fungo."

Best poster ever at the hsbaseballweb.  Not even close.  And one of the very kindest people I've known in my lifetime  

Whether you remember him or not...he, his wife Gloria, son Josh and his family could use all of our thoughts and prayers right now.

Original Post

I have not been around here in a long long long time. When I left I felt that it was time for new voices and ideas. I am back today for my close friend Luke Bell aka RU4 Fungo (very first name on here) and then he shortened it to just Fungo. And yes he was the very best poster on these forums .... ever.

The following is a post from my Facebook page that I hope folks take a couple of minutes and read. At this time Luke is still with us .... as only he would have it, he is picking the day he will "pass"

Luke Bell

Warning .... This will be long.
As some of you know Luke Bell is my friend. A few years ago Luke was diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). The V.A. has determined this to be as a result of probable contact with “Agent Orange” while serving in Vietnam.

Over the last few days I have received messages that have broken my heart and made tears run down my cheeks. Today I received a message that was all of that yet made me happy. I have been asked by Luke to write this and I almost cannot.......

From Luke: “ *****day is the day that I will pass. I’m good with it. I’m actually looking forward to it.”

Luke along with his wife Gloria and his son Josh recently decided to have the ventilator that is keeping Luke alive disconnected. The necessary arrangements have been made Luke is ready. I’ve decided to leave the day out of this .... just to say ..... in the next few days. After other personal comments between us I asked ... Is there anything that you would like me to do for you? The reply was “Please tell my FB friends”

At this point I am 2 hours into writing this at this point .... I so want this to be special and to not sound like an idiot.

In February of 1998 I started an internet website for the information exchange about all things related to High School Baseball. I knew nothing about website design, running a website or a message board forum ... I just jumped in. I added a message board in the first week thinking that a community of like minded, polite people would be the key to the site working and achieving any longevity. One of the first people to sign up was a user by the screen name of “Fungo”, from Spring City, Tennessee. Fungo turned out to be Luke Bell. He and I had a very quick bond and exchanged ideas, barbs and disagreed on some of my “ideas”. Best of all we became friends. Luke Bell has a type of common sense that few people have. I tried several times to get Luke to write articles for the website .... he always declined my requests ... saying that he was not a good writer. Then one day I realized something and did this to him (from the website) “I coaxed and nudged our friend Fungo to write an article or two for this website, without luck. I know many of us enjoy his wit, charm and tongue-in-cheek wisdom that comes through in his message board posts. Then I suddenly realized it! He was writing articles for the site .... All I needed to do was capture his message board posts.” And I did!

Over the next few years our sons (Andy (mine) and Josh (Luke’s) graduated from High School, played Division 1 college baseball and each had a couple of years of professional baseball. We rooted for each others sons just as if they were our own, exalting in each success and saddened by their disappointments.

During Andy’s senior year in college I decided to let the website go ... I did not feel that I was able to give it the proper time it deserved and gave it to a wonderful lady from Minnesota (a Mom of a high school player). The site has continued and become a constant and unbiased reliable resource for parents. Luke Bell was a key element in the success of the website .... the site never charged for membership ... had an average of 50,000 forum posts per month and most importantly helped thousands of players, coaches and parents / guardians. Over the 19+ years that we have known each other Luke and Gloria, Sue and I have remained friends, had dinner together when we were “in the area.” Luke and I met different places to photograph critters ... I took him to Florida for a week of bird photography. I remember him meeting my brother David on that trip and them taking up like they had known each other for 30 years! (two people that have never met a stranger) How they both picked on me .... sheesh. The most marvelous part of the trip was when Luke and my Dad sat across from each other, at my Dad’s kitchen table and talked for hours and hours and hours .... I finally went to bed!

Why was today's message one that made me happy? I visited Luke in the hospital at Vanderbilt, when his ALS diagnosis was confirmed. I have watched the disease trap a special person in a body that betrayed him regularly. Several times Luke and I talked about “the quality of life.” We did so briefly again today. I will miss my friend ..... but will always smile when I think of him.

Bob said it best, Fungo/Luke is the very best poster on these forums ever, and from knowing him only online this past decade, but feeling like I know him well, an even better human being. I've been praying for Luke and his family for weeks, even moreso since Bob posted the news yesterday on Facebook. God bless you and your family, Luke. You will be missed by so many.

Luke Bell (fungo) is a very special person. Wish I could have got to know him better.  Luke a baseball dad of an extremely talented player, but with other interests and a ton of wisdom.  A person who cared and wanted to help others. It was people like him and other friends of Bob Howdeshell that caused me to follow the HSBBW many years ago. 

I wish the circumstances were much different, but it sure is nice to know that Bob is still around. It is amazing how his crazy creation, continued by Julie, has helped so many people.

My thoughts and prayers to Luke Bell and his family.

Bob, Grand Poopah, thank you for your tribute to Luke Fungo. I hope we here from all the "old timers", like Hiwasee Vol, Bama Bomber, Jolly Roger, & so many others, to add their thoughts. Luke, the wise old sage..We'll forever have fond memories.

 "Never argue with an idiot...they take you down to their level, then beat you with experience." What a line!            May the Lord's peace & comfort rest on him & his family.

Good to see Bob post again.......but sadly for this reason. I cannot stress hard enough how Fungo set the tone for this website. It was Fungo and a good many others that made me stay long after my son's college baseball journey.

It truly is to repay the likes of Fungo for all the help he gave to the people who came to this site. I will pray unceasingly for his upcoming journey.............

He will join an unfortunate increasing number of our past members.........I hope their reunion is a joyous one. Tell Michael Taylor I said hello.......   

Praying for the family and friends of Fungo, but also including a word of thanks for the legacy he's left behind here for all of us.  I've read several of his posts, and can appreciate why many of you think so highly of him.  I look forward to reading them all.

  

Just thought I'd put a face with a name.  Meet Luke Bell!  One of the kindest folks I've ever known.  I think he made every one on this site feel like he was their personal advisor and friend.

We share a wife's first and middle name - 'Gloria Jean.'  He figured that out from reading our older son's bio on his college website.  Luke always found something that connected him with the folks on here and in his home town.  Baseball, photography, tinkering, heritage, kids....wife's names.  Luke is a very special person - he uniquely touched so very many people.

His son, Josh, was a stellar catcher at Auburn University and played a few years of pro ball in the Blue Jays organization.  Josh, Gloria Jean and his older son Luke III are with him, along with his grandkids.  The outpouring of love is immeasurable.

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A fitting tribute to a wonderful person...from yet another one. 

Luke Bell was, indeed, the sort of person who made the world a better place; and this website stands as a bit of reflection of the broader contribution that he made.

My sincerest condolences to his family and friends.

 

Fungo...

I too never met you but felt I knew you as well. We shared the HSBBW for a  glorious but fleeting moment when our young men were stepping out, seeking to make a mark on the baseball world. You selflessly shared yourself, your family, and your story... your gave us direction, authenticity, experience, humor, hope, wisdom, cause to pause and kept us straight...And we your readers and our sons were the better for your wisdom. I am certain that when you reach the pearly gates, there will be a smile as they have sent an Ace.

I echo the words of Coach May...Godspeed.

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Luke Bell passed on before noon today. 

Arrangements are being made through Glick Funeral Home in Boca Raton, no information posted as yet.

Rest in peace dear Fungo, you will always be missed here. Thank you for all you have done for this site.

Condolences to your loving family, from your HSBBW family.

I am not at all saddened that Fungo’s incredible life and spirit will no longer experience the ravages of ALS. I hope his family can find comfort in the courage with which Luke lived and loved.

One thing for sure: incredible photos will be soon be in his camera lenses!

One of my very favorite memories of Fungo was so many years ago in a Sunday night chat room.  I was talking with someone named "Staggerlee".  At some point, I realized that Staggerlee had another name, one that I knew so much better---Fungo.  He told me that he wanted to be just a guy---not Fungo.  But he wasn’t  ”just a guy".  He was "quite a guy". 

I had the wonderful privilege of meeting him.  One of my sons was going to college very near where he lived, and when I let Fungo know that I was driving down from Chicago to visit my son, he insisted that my daughter and I stay with him and his lovely wife.  It was a bonus, because there was a snowstorm and we were snowed in!  He also insisted that we stay with them when we traveled back down the following weekend when the games were rescheduled---this time, my husband came with us.  What a treat.  What a warm, generous, hospitable,  and fun guy.  He showed how caring he was when my son tore his ACL.  I will never forget his kindness and all that he did for Nick.

If anyone ever questioned if one person can make a difference in the world, the answer is yes.  Fungo touched the lives of everyone he met----either in person, or on the hsbaseballweb and facebook.   I joined facebook just so I could see his magnificent nature pictures! 

For some reason, Mother Theresa’s very famous quote is running though my mind…..”Not all of us can do great things.  But we can do small things with great love”.  Fungo did everything, great and small, with great love.  I hope he knew just how loved he was in return.

Godspeed, Fungo.  And thank you.  For everything.

 

infielddad posted:

I am not at all saddened that Fungo’s incredible life and spirit will no longer experience the ravages of ALS. I hope his family can find comfort in the courage with which Luke lived and loved.

One thing for sure: incredible photos will be soon be in his camera lenses!

Well said.  I am sad for his family and friends but comforted that Luke's pain is now over.  Perhaps we could turn this thread into a tribute to Fungo.

Here is a word tribute to him from William Shakespeare's Hamlet:

“He was a man, take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again.”

I have no photography skill whatsoever.  I don't even like taking pictures on my IPhone.  I was out for a walk this past Sunday and came across this pastoral scene and immediately the thought of Luke entered my mind.  It even occurred to me that he may have passed at that moment but alas, he struggled for almost three more days.  Anyhow, here is the cell-phone picture I took when thinking of Luke:

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I will miss Luke.  I will SOOO miss Luke.  While he hadn't posted here in a while, he routinely sent me notes on Facebook, including very recently, asking about this and that, or commenting on something I had posted.  Even earlier this summer he sent me a note apologizing for not being able to write as much due to the loss of use of his fingers for typing.  I was like, 'are you kidding me?'  Luke was a unique friend - one who made me feel loved and touched nearly every day.  He was so genuinely kind - such a good...GOOD person.

I just love Luke Bell.  No other way to say it. I just love(d) the guy.

Below is a post his daughter-in-law posted this past weekend - I just cannot imagine a nicer, better thing for a daughter to ever write about her father or father-in-law....

Saying goodbye is never easy and in fact it's one of the hardest things in the world to do. Spending these next few days with my father in law Luke Bell will be bitter sweet. The best part of this is that I get to raise his legacy Luke Bell iv and married to his son Luke Bell, so I will always be able to wake up in the mornings and look into my husbands or sons eyes and see him and their webbed toes! One thing to keep in mind is that our loved ones are loaned to us by God, he belongs to our lord and I'm so very thankful that our Heavenly Father was gracious enough to allow me to be a part of this Mans family and the chance to love him. Actually this will be "see you later, in heaven". I love you and promise that I will take care of your son and grandchildren! - Vittoria Shutt Bell

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Rest in peace our dear friend Luke.  You were one very special person that God gave to us.  I miss you Luke - you are loved by so many, many people.

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