Teddy Warfield and Phil Bukowski shared a wit, a friendship and a love of football. I know this because they also share a beautiful bench overlooking Sheboygan Falls.
Both played on the Sheboygan Falls High School football team and graduated from the school in 1966. Their yearbook quotes that year showcased their silliness and love for the game.
“After the game is over, after the field is clear, straighten my nose and shoulder and help me find my nose,” wrote Phil.
Teddy “Stellar” Warfield wrote, “He knows football isn’t the only place he needs a good line.”
I could not find a lot of information about the Sheboygan Falls 1965 football team online (and I’m still waiting for a call back from the high school media specialist), but I’m pretty sure Teddy and Phil’s love for football stemmed from the camaraderie they shared, rather than any accolades they received.
“Still sharing a bench” reads the bench, and I found that charming.
Thanks to that bench and my Aunt Martha’s super sleuth abilities, I also know that Teddy and Phil’s friendship took a tragic turn shortly after they graduated.
According to the June 27, 1966 edition of the Sheboygan Press, just 11 days after starting his new job at the Kohler Company Power Plant, Phil was electrocuted on site. As he was working on a switchboard, his body came in contact with a 440-volt line and he died instantly. He was only 18 years old.
Teddy also worked at the Kohler Power Plant and, according to his obituary, continued to do so for the next 40 years until his death at age 60 in 2008.
I stumbled onto their bench when I took a spontaneous walk through Sheboygan Falls last weekend and I thought about how their story mirrors that river town. The water runs swiftly over the falls there and reminds us how fleeting life can be, but the river itself remains constant and, from its banks, the buildings, the benches, the stories and the friendships live on.