• “Hey Big Lo…I love you my friend!”

  • 1 November 2011 by 9 Comments

Saturday afternoon October 29, Charles “Bud, Big Lo” Lobetti passed from this life to a much better place.  His physical absence from the body of East High grads leaves a gigantic hole and hundreds of shocked and intensely saddened friends.  I miss him now and always will.

I think “Big Lo” is a moniker he acquired after high school.  At least I never heard him called Big Lo during those days in the 50s.  I didn’t hear Charles either…or Charlie.  Charlie was reserved for his father, a kind and well-respected man and track coach at East.  On the basketball team we always called him “Lobetti”…never anything else.  But in the last decade to most of his friends it was always Bud or Big Lo.

Bud was bigger than life, not because he was 6’-5” or that he tried to be a big shot.  It was just that he had the presence to command a room and the situation.  He was like a magnet…you were drawn to him…and his heart that was even bigger than he was.

Over a period of 50 years memories fade and feats of some athletes are overshadowed by the most recent “phenom” in each sport.  Such has happened to Lobetti over the last 5 decades.  Bud earned 7 letters in 3 sports at East from 1955-1958.  To my memory no other athlete had the breadth or depth of accomplishments at EHS, over its 17-year history, except for Kyle “Buddy” Cruze.

Bud was a good basketball player (City County All-Star participant), a better football player (first team All City) and a phenomenal track athlete.  He excelled in the 120 high hurdles and 180 lows. Bud was an excellent broad jumper and a nationally ranked high jumper.

In the 50s the high jump style was the Western Roll, having replaced the scissors method of two decades earlier.  Bud’s father, Charlie, himself an accomplished high jumper, taught Bud his craft and taught him well.  He won the State high jump in 1956 and 1958.  In 1958 he also won the low hurdles with a new Tennessee record of 19.5 seconds, a mark that exceeded the best time in 34 other states and equaled it in 5 others.  He also finished second in the high hurdles in ‘58.  That year he teamed with Don Whedbee, to lead EHS to a runner-up finish in the State to perennial winner the Oak Ridge Wildcats.  In 1958 Bud also won and set a new Tennessee State record in the grueling 10 event Decathlon with 7729 points, 249 higher than the previous record.

These accomplishments may have defined what Bud did athletically as a teenager but they do not define who he became as a man.  Character defined Bud Lobetti.  He had character…and he was a character!  I contend that neither of these statements are even arguable.  And the hundreds who called him friend would fight you if you challenged either.

When a group of us began planning our 50th class reunion I talked with Bud every week or so.  He asked me to take on a small job and I agreed…after all Big Lo was…well, Big Lo, and he was “in charge.”  No surprise there, I’m sure you agree.  Over time we talked more frequently…and soon it was every day.

In those conversations I saw a Bud Lobetti I had never seen.  We increasingly talked about life, family and faith…the things of true value.  We shared heart issues like we never had before…and we developed a closeness that seemed to grow each time we spoke.

It may be common to talk about Bud in the past tense.  I think, however, that this does a significant disservice to his position as a believing Christian.  Today Bud is more alive than any other day in his 72+ years. And he is rejoicing with Joyce, his beloved wife of 5 decades who preceded him in death about 4 short months ago.

Our EHS Graduating Class of 1958 ambled…or probably strutted…I can’t remember…across the stage at UT’s Alumni Memorial Gymnasium on June 3, 1958.   On that morning we received our diplomas from Dr. Charles O. Moffitt, formerly head football coach at East.  If on that day you had told me I would ever tell Bud Lobetti I loved him, I would have thought you were crazy…and probably told you so.  But the close friendship we developed in the last 4 years led me to tell him just that about 3 months ago.  From that day forward we always ended our frequent conversations with those words of endearment and encouragement to each other.

A couple of weeks ago as we walked toward our cars after Bud, Tom Burnett and I had breakfast, I hollered to him…”Hey Big Lo, I love you my friend.”  He responded, “I love you too J. Ross.”    I’ll remember that brief exchange and my dear friend Bud Lobetti for a long time.

Editor’s Note:  The two photos are of Bud and his father, Charlie Lobetti.  The one at the high jump bar was taken in April of 1956 when Bud was a sophomore.  At that time, his father held the Tennessee State record in the high jump at 6’-2 ½.” This was always a favorite photo of theirs.  The other was of Bud as a senior at EHS and his father taken 30 years after he was the same age as Bud was in his picture.  It was in the Knoxville Sentinel along with a lengthy article about this father and son team.

CHARLES B. “BUD” LOBETTI (EHS-1958)

Following is a link to the obituary for our good friend and classmate, Bud Lobetti,  The family will receive friends from 3:00 pm untill 7:00 pm on Thursday November 3,  followed by a memorial service at 7:00 pm.  Both will be held at Salem Baptist Church. The address for the church is:

Salem Baptist Church
8201 Hill Road
Knoxville, TN  37938

Phone: (865) 922-3490

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/knoxnews/obituary.aspx?n=charles-burns-lobetti-bud&pid=154426732

9 Responses to “Hey Big Lo…I love you my friend!”
    • Evelyn Lingerfelt
    • Ross, What a wonderful story about Bud. He was a great brother-in-law and is going to be missed. You may have already thought of this, but if you haven’t, I think it would be nice to have it read at his service on Thursday. It is a correct and vivid picture of Bog Lo. I’m glad you included his father in the story too. God bless you!

    • John Bolton
    • Great article Ross. Everyone of us will miss him. I think in a lot of ways he turned our to be our EHS Class leader. The first time I remember him being called “Big Lo” was a time he called himself “Big Lo”. A bunch of us had gone to camp in the Chimney Camp Grounds at the end of our Junior or Senior year during the Easter break. We decided to climb to the top of the Chimneys and on the way up Gene Lane slid over the side of the trail just barely hanging on when a big arm reached down and a voice said “don’t worry Big Lo’s got you”. He pulled Gene up to the trail and we went on our way. That was BIG LO! An image of him I will never forget.

      • Gina L Collette
      • I was too emotional to really read and absorb Ross’ article and memories when he posted this, but I have found myself back here today to read these kind and loving words about my dear father.

        He took us to the mountains often when we were children and would always tell us about going into the “woods” on a Friday and not coming out until Sunday. I so appreciate you sharing this particular camping trip and his “saving” my “uncle” Gene. They loved each other dearly.

        I called “Uncle” Gene several times after my dad died because I knew he was hurting, too. The last time I talked to him, I knew would be my last, because I knew it was only a matter of time for him. He was more than ready. I asked him to give my mother and father a kiss for me.

        He passed on my birthday in 2012. I spoke with Gene’s daughter, whom he had after me so many years ago. She told me of the last minutes her father was alive and that he very clearly told her my mother and father were there with him, along with his parents.

        That is one of the best “stories” I believe I have ever heard. May God bless all of those who loved my father, “Big Lo”, because I know he treasured his friends and family more than anything else on Earth.

      • Gina Lobetti Collette
      • I was too emotional to really read and absorb Ross’ article and memories when he posted this, but I have found myself back here today to read these kind and loving words about my dear father.

        He took us to the mountains often when we were children and would always tell us about going into the “woods” on a Friday and not coming out until Sunday. I so appreciate you sharing this particular camping trip and his “saving” my “uncle” Gene. They loved each other dearly.

        I called “Uncle” Gene several times after my dad died because I knew he was hurting, too. The last time I talked to him, I knew would be my last, because I knew it was only a matter of time for him. He was more than ready. I asked him to give my mother and father a kiss for me.

        He passed on my birthday in 2012. I spoke with Gene’s daughter, whom he had named after me so many years ago. She told me of the last minutes her father was alive and that he very clearly told her my mother and father were there with him, along with his parents.

        That is one of the best “stories” I believe I have ever heard. May God bless all of those who loved my father, “Big Lo”, because I know he treasured his friends and family more than anything else on Earth.

    • charles (tom) blanc
    • thanks Ross for this article. there were three of us blanc`s who attended EHS. Charlotte, John and Tom Blanc. We relocated during out senior year 1957-58 to Miami,FL. A move I wish we had never made. A friend of mine, Kenneth Lawell kept me up to date with events during that era. Kenneth died of lung cancer several years ago while living in St. Paul,MN. Do you have any current info about another friend whom I have lost contact with. Kyle Finley? Thanks for all you have done thus far.
      Charles (tom) Blanc

    • Janice Lobetti Stewart
    • This is a beautiful memorial for my brother Buddy and so true about his big heart.

      Thank You
      Janice Lobetti Stewart

      • Diana Mankel Green
      • I just came from attending the funeral service for Bud. What a beautiful tribute to a truly wonderful friend. I was very proud to be sitting among a large group of East High grads with tears in our eyes and love in our hearts for “Big Lo”. We will miss you so very much and will never forget you.

    • charlotte lobetti brewer
    • What a beautiful story. To all of you he was “BIG LO”, but to me he was my little brother “Buddy”. Thank you.

    • Rachel Yarnell Thompson
    • What a beautiful tribute to Bud Lobetti.I really appreciated your coverage of his high school athletic career. I shared it with my husband, who was a “track man” at his high school back in North Dakota, and who had met Bud at our 50th Reunion. From my high school days I remember Bud as a very kind guy, not afflicted with an over-inflated ego despite his considerable accomplishments. Thank you, J. Ross, for bringing back these memories. Rachel

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