In Frank Capra’s classic Christmas movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the main character, George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, is given a chance to see what the world would have been like had he never been born. As George views this world, he discovers that the many small acts of courage and kindness he displayed made the lives of those whom he touched and the world around him so much better.

One can’t help think about this movie when considering Harold “Tank” Violette (article, Aug. 5, “Winslow coaching icon Harold ‘Tank’ Violette dies”). He was a rare man. He had a charisma and presence seldom seen.

My Marine Corps drill instructor would have said, “He had the eye of the tiger,” the will to win. It was a will that was contagious, it infected us all who came under his tutelage. He compelled us as players and students to demand more of ourselves and discover what we were capable of. We are all better off because his life touched ours.

He was the kind of man all men should aspire to be. He was a good father, husband, mentor, coach and a good citizen. One can’t help remember his unwavering gaze and hearty laugh.

By example and by instruction, his influence on the hundreds, if not thousands, of young men he inspired has made our lives and our worlds so much the better. Like ripples in a pond, his influence spreads and lives on.

The passing of a loved one is, of course, a time of grief. The grief surrounding the passing of Violette can be tempered, though, when one considers that he really did have a wonderful life.

Luke Breton, Stratham, N.H.

Winslow High School

Class of 1977


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