In Praise of Carl Izzo

Carl Izzo 1925-2015I never had the honor of getting to know Carl Izzo personally. But I’ve had the opportunity to study a few of his greatest creations. And they reflect an exceptional human being.

Italian culture so mixes the elements of devotion and passion to create strong family bonds, deeply rooted in tradition, loyalty and personal accountability. These were just a few of the values Carl and Dorothy Izzo endeavored to pass on to their children during 64 years of marriage. Things worth having never come easy. They require, sacrifice, steadfast dedication and attention to detail. Education is crucial to competitiveness. Family is an institution you can always count on. And discipline is the highest expression of love.

Grab opportunity by the reigns and tenaciously invest your God given gifts to create value today and to pass your knowledge on to the generations that follow. Whether that meant creating ceramic craftsmanship that could outlast the floor joists on which it was laid, or inspiring a son to become a teacher, a coach and an internationally admired role model for sportsmanship and leadership, excellence was the essence of Carl Izzo’s life.

An appreciation for the natural beauty world around us, the sometimes painful lessons that build character, honesty and integrity, and the spiritual foundation that gives rise to every blessing; these are the things we all hope will permeate the DNA of our children. These are the fundamental building blocks of a life of service to family and community, a behavior set that Carl Izzo personally modeled as an energetic community booster and school board member. He chased it on the golf course, the baseball field and at the bowling alley. And he passed it on as an admired father, a loving grandfather and a tireless supporter of Michigan State University’s athletic endeavors.

One only has to spend five minutes in the presence of Carl Izzo’s son, to know that all of these elements so mixed to create a life well lived. Tom may have been educated at Northern Michigan University and forged from iron into steel in the fiery furnace of Division One College Basketball. But the facets reflected in the man were, at first, seeds carefully sowed and tended by a first generation American, a World War II veteran rightly dubbed a member of the Greatest Generation, a north woods entrepreneur and a truly dedicated, loving father.

We grieve the passing of this extraordinary man. There are way too few Carl Izzos in our world. But we are also joyfully grateful that he walked this earth, planting seeds that have grown into exquisite works of human art, and leaving indelible footprints for us to follow.

Colleen and I extend our deepest sympathies to Tom, Lupe and the entire Izzo family, and our deepest gratitude that the best elements of your amazing father continue to live on in your image.

Scott Westerman and the entire MSUAA Family