'You could see he genuinely loved people'
BY MIKE STRAIN World Sports Editor
Friday, May 22, 2009
5/22/09 at 5:14 AM
The white-haired, 76-year-old man sat alone in section 101 of the BOK Center.
And on the surface, Gene Casey might have seemed out of place. He never saw a Wayman Tisdale concert. He isn't even sure he ever saw Tisdale play basketball. And he's nearly two generations older than Tisdale.
But Tisdale was part of Casey's life, even though "he wouldn't remember me. I'm sure of that. But I remember him. He made an everlasting impression."
Casey worked at Morton Health Center in the early 1980s. He was in his 50s then — an army veteran who spent time in the Korean War. Casey got to know a young woman named Regina. She cleaned offices and had a boyfriend (and future husband) named Wayman. He would come to pick her up from work and would spend time chatting with Casey.
"They were just so nice," said Casey, who almost sheepishly admits that he knew little about Tisdale's basketball exploits at Booker T. Washington and didn't follow his career much afterward. "I'm not a sports person. I can't recall if I saw him play or not."
What he does recall is that Wayman, always quick with a smile, and his girlfriend Regina gave a man from another generation and another walk of life a sense of belonging at Morton.
"You could see the kindness," Casey said of his visits with Tisdale. "You could see he genuinely loved people. It was overwhelming.
"That's why I'm here today."
Mike Strain 581-8356
Gene Casey said he worked with Wayman Tisdale's future wife, Regina, at the Morton Health Center in the early 1980s. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World