John Wren

John Wren, the South High football coach who died suddenly on July 2, 2013, was one of my favorite students at CSUB.


He belonged to a rare subset of the student athlete: those who have talents beyond sports. Other members include Andrew Luck of Stanford with a degree in architecture; Rhodes Scholar Khris Khristopherson of Pomona College; and Tommy Lee Jones, a 175 lb. offensive lineman for Harvard (cum laude in English) in its 28-28 rout of Yale. The controversial Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders earned a degree in English at Syracuse and reportedly spent off days with non-football friends discussing literature.

John worked his way through CSUB, where he was an English major. He once earned an A+ on a very effective paper. He was articulate and loved literature (not every student in my literature classes loved literature).

I especially appreciated having John in my American literature class because he was a class leader. He got excited about Stephen Crane.  He spoke up, asked interesting questions, and helped move class discussions. He never tried to dominate a discussion or put someone down.

This poem by Emily Dickinson could serve as John’s epitaph:

The Bustle in a House

The Morning after Death

Is solemnest of industries

Enacted upon Earth—

The Sweeping up the Hearth

And putting Love away

We shall not want to use again

Until Eternity.

-Victor Lasseter, Emeritus Professor of English, CSUB

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