For more than 30 years, this wonderful woman spent her spare time helping patients and others at the Fairview Southdale Hospital.

Pat Grant, the wife of former Vikings coach Bud Grant, was available whenever needed and still took care of her husband and six children in fine fashion. With her husband being a longtime football coach, her four boys all outstanding football players and two active daughters, she presided over a busy household.

Sadly, Pat, a devoted wife, loving mother and willing volunteer, died Wednesday morning at Fairview Southdale Hospital at the age of 81.

Aside from the family's loss, life won't be the same without her around for a lot of people whose lives she touched.

Being the wife of a football coach -- 10 years at Winnipeg and 18 years with the Vikings -- was not an easy job.

After Bud's success in Canada, one of her strongest desires was getting her husband to coach in America, where she wanted her children brought up. She couldn't convince him when the NFL awarded an franchise to Minnesota in 1961, and he turned down the job. But in 1967 it was a different story.

Jim Finks, who had been the general manager of the Calgary CFL team, had become general manager of the Vikings, and he convinced Bud to begin his long tenure with the team.

I had a very personal interest in this woman, who I loved dearly, often being the chauffeur when Bud courted her 60-plus years ago. Bud didn't have a car -- they were married 59 years ago, during his first of two seasons with the Minneapolis Lakers. I learned firsthand what a wonderful mother and wife this great lady was after they got married, as we kept our longtime friendship forever.

In her later years, stricken with Parkinson's disease, she had to sit in Bud's car parked in the end zone, so she could watch her son, Mike, coach the Eden Prairie football team and see many of her grandchildren spark the team to one championship after another.

She and Bud have 19 grandchildren, who will never forget what a fabulous grandmother they had and a wonderful grandfather, who was holding her hand until the last breath.

No outsider ever ate more meals at the Grant home than me. And she made the greatest goulash ever, something I ate after most every Vikings home game coached by my very close personal friend. A person couldn't have a better friend than Bud Grant, a man with more common sense than anybody I have ever met.

I hadn't tasted that great meal for a while until a week ago last Monday, when I made it over to the Grant household after a number of previous invitations by Pat and Bud. Bud, his son Pete, Pat and I spent three hours around the kitchen table eating that good stuff before Pat had to take a nap.

It was heartbreaking, because that meal was the last one she ever ate, going to the hospital for 10 days before her death. She had won a similar battle four years ago in the same hospital.

Yes, I know there will be a lot of tears when funeral services for my annual nominee for Mother of the Year will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Eden Prairie, with visitation starting at 12:30 p.m.

Maresh optimistic

Sam Maresh, the Gophers linebacker from Champlin Park who underwent a heart operation, was cleared to play football, then had a setback when what was feared to be a tumor in his left calf ended up being a benign mass of scar tissue, is feeling confident about his future.

"I went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago," Maresh said. "They said to wait a couple of weeks, see if it got any better. The next step might be surgery. Right now, I'm doing some rehab stuff on it, see if it gets any better.

"Right now it feels pretty good. I should be able to play. If it still hurts when I'm done with spring ball, and stuff like that, I'll just have to work through the pain. And I should be ready to go.

"It's pretty tough sometimes. With the support from my teammates and the coaches and my family and friends, it's getting me through it and I'll be ready to go in the fall."


The Gophers men's hockey team has only two graduating seniors -- defenseman R.J. Anderson and winger Justin Bostrom. Other members of the Gophers recruiting class of 2004-05 -- Blake Wheeler, Phil Kessel and Jeff Frazee -- are having nice seasons in the professional ranks, and Ryan Stoa had a nice comeback season for the Gophers after season- ending knee surgery last season. Kessel is the third-leading scorer for the Boston Bruins with 26 goals and 21 assists with a plus-minus rating of plus-17 in 57 games, and Wheeler, also with the Bruins, is having a fine rookie season with 17 goals and 21 assists and a plus-minus rating of plus-33. Frazee has a 22-11-5 record and 2.62 goals-against average and .922 saves percentage for the New Jersey Devils' AHL affiliate, Lowell.

The Gophers men's basketball team is scheduled to play in the Maui Invitational tournament in 2013. ... Forbes magazine attempted to identify the nation's best college basketball coaches, using recruiting class rank, win-loss percentage, NCAA tournament invitations, Final Four trips and championships, looking back at those five categories over the past four years. Using this criteria, the magazine identified North Carolina's Roy Williams No. 1 and had two Big Ten coaches in its top 10: Tom Izzo of Michigan State at No. 6 and Wisconsin's Bo Ryan at No. 9.

The Wild is challenging for its second Jennings Trophy (fewest goals against in the NHL) in three years. The Wild has allowed 146 goals in 62 games, the second-lowest goals-against total in the NHL. Only Boston is allowing fewer goals per game this season at 140 goals against in 64 games. Minnesota won the Jennings Trophy in the 2006-07 season, allowing 184 goals, seven fewer than the Detroit Red Wings that season.

Five players signed by the Wild last summer have added 170 games of Stanley Cup playoff experience. Owen Nolan leads the group with 65 games played in the playoffs. Andrew Brunette (43), Antti Miettinen (24), Marc-Andre Bergeron (24) and Marek Zidlicky (14) also added playoff experience to the Wild roster.

Forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard leads the Wild with 25 points in the past 27 games, beginning with Minnesota's 3-2 overtime victory vs. San Jose. Bouchard also leads the Wild with 17 points in 16 games since the All-Star Break.

Jason Brunansky, the son of former Twins outfielder Tom Brunansky, is a freshman on the Kansas baseball team. ... The Gophers baseball team played host to Northern Iowa at the Metrodome on Wednesday. Northern Iowa announced in late February its intention to eliminate its baseball program after this season unless $1.2 million can be raised in the next month to save the program.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast once a week at