Saturday, October 14, 2006

Wooden Honored By Post Office On 96th Birthday

Associated Press

Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden got a special gift for his 96th birthday on Saturday.

The Reseda post office in the San Fernando Valley was dedicated in his honor.

University of California, Los Angeles, cheerleaders were on hand and the school's alumni band played "Happy Birthday."

Wooden, looking dapper in a navy suit and bolo tie, and walking well despite a cane, told a crowd in front of a blocked-off street that he was humbled and appreciative, said Richard Maher, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service.

"Nobody expects to be around to 96," the coach told the crowd, according to Maher.

"Someone asked me if I was afraid of death," Wooden said. "I've been blessed too many ways to be afraid of death. You people here today have blessed me."

Maher said someone asked Wooden the secret of his longevity.

"I've always practiced moderation and I have peace within," he replied.

Wooden coached UCLA for 27 years, retiring in 1975 with a record of 620-147 and 10 national titles.

Legislation to dedicate the Reseda post office for Wooden was sponsored by Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Los Angeles, and signed by President Bush in August. A plaque noting the dedication will be placed inside the building, Maher said.

Wooden has lived in nearby Encino for more than 30 years but his local post office was renamed in 2002 in honor of the late Los Angeles Lakers announcer Chick Hearn.

Wooden's daughter, Nancy Muehlhausen, lives in Reseda. She and Wooden's son, Jim, were on hand for the dedication.

(photo credit: AP)



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