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Teddy Ebersol: “The Finish Line Is Only the Beginning”

12/05/2004 07:00:00 PM Eastern

On Sunday, Nov. 28, a private plane carrying NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol, two of his children and a three-person crew crashed shortly after takeoff from a Montrose, Colo., airport. Edward Ebersol, 14, was killed, as were two of the crew members. Dick Ebersol and his son Charlie, 21, were injured. Adding to the agony, Edward’s body was not found until a day later. The family late last week released this obituary of their son, also known as Teddy.

Known as Teddy to family and friends, Edward Bright Ebersol was born on June 10, 1990, in Torrington, Conn. Through eighth grade, he was a student at Washington Montessori School in Washington, Conn. This fall, he entered the freshman class at The Gunnery, a boarding school also in Washington, near the Ebersol family’s hometown of Litchfield.

Teddy was a deeply cherished son to Susan Saint James and Dick Ebersol, and youngest brother to his sister, Sunshine, and to his brothers Harmony, Charlie and Willie.

In an autobiography he penned as an eighth-grade writing assignment, Teddy wrote: “The meaning of love can be described in one word: family. The family I have holds tight to old bonds and extends a firm grip on new ones. My family on the highway to love is neck and neck with God. All the fancy talk I used to describe my family cannot measure them. Each family member takes this love to a new extreme ... and turns it into something that no one can describe. That rope of love never slackens.”

Teddy was a warm, loving and energetic young man with a self-knowledge beyond his years and a wonderfully quirky sense of humor that led him to say things that could be interpreted as silly and profound at once. While speaking at his eighth-grade graduation ceremony, he said, “A quote that I made up a little while ago seems to make sense to me now as I reflect on the years behind me and the years ahead: 'I follow, therefore I lead.’”

He loved politics and enjoyed engaging grownups in lively political discussions. While at the Daytona 500 earlier this year, he took great delight in debating the entire conservative-leaning pit crew of driver Kyle Petty.

Bill Rollnick, a family friend who was there with the Ebersols, said, “Teddy explained to them why they were wrong politically, arguing from knowledge. He argued them to their knees. I’m a Democrat, and next to Teddy I felt like Jerry Falwell. He was very opinionated, but he was never unkind. At 13 years old, he knew so much. I yearned for the day I could have won an argument with him.”

Although wise beyond his years, Teddy had a charming innocence. A fan of the television show SpongeBob SquarePants, his favorite character wasn’t SpongeBob himself but rather Patrick, the intensely loyal, exuberant sidekick.

He enjoyed as well videogames (Halo 2 was a recent highlight), music, and the Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket books. Teddy often memorized favorite movie lines and entertained his friends and family by quoting dialogue. He loved karaoke and had a sweet and strong singing voice.

He especially enjoyed his many summer sessions at Timberlake at the farm and wilderness camp in Vermont. Teddy was also a prize-winning poet, having won a medal last year at a national poetry convention for a poem he wrote—a humorous poem, naturally.

Teddy served as an altar boy at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Litchfield and also volunteered at the Litch­field County Association for Retarded Citizens in Torrington. LARC staff member Elaine Tedesco said that Teddy would sit down with the clients “like they had grown up together. He acted like he was their best friend, like he knew them forever.” Teddy also encouraged his classmates to volunteer at LARC.

Teddy’s work with LARC was inspired by a trip with his mother to visit schools in China that were preparing for the International Special Olympics in Shanghai in 2007.

This past summer, their adventure together was a cross-country road trip, catching baseball games along the way. Teddy and his mom often said they were “best friends in the whole wide world.”

One of Teddy’s other best friends, Doug Sloam, said that “Teddy was always happy and optimistic and really fun to be around. He had so much energy and was always talking. He was also generous. I used to forget my lunch sometimes, and Teddy always gave me a snack or two. In sixth grade, Teddy gave me one of the best birthday presents ever when he took me to a Red Sox-Yankees game at Fenway Park. And that day, for my sake, he rooted for the Yankees. I will never, ever forget him.”

A mutual love for sports gave Teddy a strong connection to his father. Everyone who knew him could see that his No. 1 passion was the Boston Red Sox, although his family was split in their allegiances. Teddy’s sister, mother and 89-year-old grandmother align with the Sox, but his dad and brothers are died-in-the-wool Yankees fans. Teddy’s enthusiasm for the Red Sox this season was so infectious that even Dick Ebersol found himself rooting for Boston during the World Series. Like his beloved team, Teddy never lost hope.

In his eighth-grade graduation speech, Teddy said, “The finish line is only the beginning of a whole new race.” Teddy Ebersol’s life on this earth has reached the finish line, all too soon. His wonderful spirit will live on in his family and in all who knew and loved him.

Donations in Teddy’s memory may be sent to the Litchfield County Association for Retarded Citizens at the following address:

LARC Capital Campaign

In Memory of Teddy Ebersol

84R Main St.

Torrington, CT 06790

Federal Tax ID 06-6075006

Phone: 860-482-9364

Plans for a memorial service will be announced this week. Individuals can send condolences to this e-mail address: ebersolfamily@nbcuni.com.

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