PASADENA, Calif. — One West Michigan family is using the Rose Bowl to check something off of a loved one’s bucket list.
“His bucket list became our bucket list,” Monte Overweg said of his son Todd, who died in 2009.
Tanya Overweg, Todd’s widow, said they were both avid Spartan fans who met at MSU during a party her sophomore year.
“I came into the party and he says to Matt (a friend), ‘That is the girl I’m gonna marry,’ and I walked up to him and I said hi to him and I walked right past,” Tanya said.
But, their interaction didn’t end there.
“We had season tickets [Spartan football], really, since we were in school we went every Saturday,” she said.
The two remained friends throughout their college careers. Tanya eventually went off to Central Michigan University, while Todd took a job as a teacher in Springport. After graduating from CMU, Tanya also became a teacher. She found a job at Olivet, right next to Springport.
“To me, that was God saying we were supposed to be together,” Tanya said. “We got engaged. Shortly after that…got married. Had four beautiful kids, it was a storybook.”
While teaching and being a full-time husband and father, Todd also took his love for the game back to the field where he coached varsity football.
“He absolutely loved being involved with kids,” Tanya said. “It used to be a requirement in his first-grade class that they learn the Michigan State fight song before they went on to second grade.”
But, in March 2009, Tanya’s storybook added an unexpected chapter.
“He remembers running off the field on time and kind of being short of breath…and just was sick to his stomach,” Tanya said.
Todd died from a previously undiagnosed heart condition.
“I never thought I was going to be a widow at 40-years-old,” she said.
As time went on, Tanya thought it was time to move forward. As she was cleaning out Todd’s belongings, she came across something he wrote.
“That’s a really awful thing to have to do, is go through somebody’s drawers and their closets and have to empty things out,” Tanya said. “But I found his bucket list…the one that was on there that just called to me was go to the Rose Bowl.”
Monte Overweg said that Todd, his first-born child, always loved stories of the Rose Bowl. While attending MSU, in 1988, the team qualified and Todd reached for his opportunity.
“Todd came home and said ‘dad can I go to the Rose Bowl,” Monte said. “We didn’t have a lot of money back then…dont have a lot of money now, but the fact of the matter is we found a dollar here and a dollar there and he would forgo his Christmas present, so we found enough money so that he could go to the Rose Bowl.”
While at the game Todd’s school spirit shined through.
“He brought this newspaper [home] and said ‘dad I made the front page of the San Bernardino Sun,” Monte said.
The Overwegs will ring in the new year by honoring Todd’s life long wish.