We were all “young tigers” to Lou Reuter, who was an almost mythical figure when I roamed the fields and halls of Kenmore East High School. He will remain that way long after his passing, a loss the Town of Tonawanda and beyond are mourning today.
To me, Lou Reuter was my freshman year football coach — his drill in warm-ups was the up-down — and senior year government teacher with a vocabulary almost expansive as his stature. To kids at our school, he was larger than life, a personality you had to notice and a body that was in the school fitness center seemingly every day I was which — believe it or not — was often.
Mr. Reuter taught history at East for 37 years, and coached football for 33. He even coached three years of freshman ball at West, but I won’t hold that against him. He was an Empire State Games volunteer for 17 years, and the Western Regional Director for another 10. When he retired from teaching, you couldn’t miss him for long… he ran for political office in the town.
I didn’t know “Sweet Lou” a ton, but when I ran into one of his fellow teachers at the supermarket this morning only to hear of Mr. Reuter’s death, the only thing I could utter was, “He lived a heck of a life.” That earned a smile, because whether he was helping to play the peacemaker after a fistfight between myself and an offensive lineman in 1996, or laughing off the antics of my senior friends and me four years later, he carried himself in a way that made you hope to be as happy to be alive when you were in your 60s as he was.
There are so many great teachers and coaches who don’t have a student end up in a spot like me, where I can do my best to describe their impact on a community, but he deserves every accolade I can imagine. To me, he was emblematic of all things blue and gold. When I texted some siblings and friends to tell them Lou has succumbed to the disease he’d fought for about six months, my friend Jimmy C. said it the best:
“He was Kenmore East.”
Sure was. God bless you and keep you, Sweet Lou.