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Dick Button's Muscles

While I was writing the obituary for Aldus Chapin, a prominent figure on the D.C. arts scene for many years, Chapin's wife Dolly shared with me a letter she had received from her husband's Harvard roommate, the former Olympic skater Dick Button.

Button, who'll be 80 this year, was not only one of the greatest figure skaters of all time -- an Olympic gold medalist in 1948 and '52, first skater to land a double axel in competition, first to land a triple jump in competition -- but, as my colleague Matt Schudel reminded me, he's been a TV presence for more than half a century. "He's more than just a TV commentator," Matt said. "He is an eloquent critic of an athletic event that's more like an art form."

Here's an excerpt from Button's letter about his old friend, who died May 15: "Aldie always seemed to me to be The Golden One who had everything -- a good athlete, good looks, a good mind, a supportive family and sophistication that was years ahead of us. . . . He also had a sense of humor which sometimes was aimed at us. When I came home from the Olympics in 1952 in the greatest of physical shape and was standing in the suite at Q-Entry in my boxer shorts, he just stood there shaking his head feigning great sadness. When I asked him why, he said, 'I feel sorry for you. When you are 40, those muscles will be hanging around your knees like festoons of grapes.' I never got dressed after that without looking to see if the festoons of grape were there. I am sorry not to have been able to tell him they are now.".

By Joe Holley  |  May 20, 2009; 12:25 PM ET
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