AS I SEE IT
by: Bob Magee

REFLECTIONS ON THE PASSING OF A FRIEND.... BRIAN HILDEBRAND
Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
http://pwbts.com

'I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories...

I'm so tired but I can't sleep
Standin' on the edge of something much too deep
It's funny how we feel so much but we cannot say a word
We are screaming inside, but we can't be heard...

But I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories...

I Will Remember You
(Sarah McLaughlan, Seamus Egan, and Dave Merenda)
(c) 1999

Of all places, I was at a wake for the uncle of friend Kathy Fitzpatrick, when my younger brother John called her on her cell phone at the funeral home, and passed on the news after receiving it from PWBTS's Fritz Capp....

I will always remember Brian Hildebrand as a man who lived and loved the wrestling business, who got to live his dream of making a living in wrestling as referee Mark Curtis for World Championship Wrestling. I remember a man who lived to his last day with more courage than anyone I've ever had the privilege to know.

Brian fought stomach cancer for nearly two years, after being diagnosed in October 1997. He refused to allow cancer to stop his incredible spirit and his wonderful sense of humor. He seemed amazed and somewhat embarrassed at all the attention his battle with cancer received.

As the Sarah McLaughlin song indicates...too many times we keep our thoughts inside us when they are screaming out to be heard. But Brian was such a very special person that he has inspired all of us who were friends, family, fans, or co-workers to share our feelings on such a funny, dedicated, committed individual who has been and always will be an inspiration to live each day of our lives to their fullest...and to follow our dreams, no matter how impossible they may seem.

I had the privilege of knowing Brian Hildebrand for six years, since Smoky Mountain Wrestling's Fanweek 1993. Brian is responsible for two of the most special experiences of my life, Fanweek 1993 and 1994. For those who aren't familiar with them, SMW Fanweek was held every summer from 1993-1995. It was made up of a traveling road show, combined with barbecues, Q&As, and marathon videotape parties.

Brian Hildebrand was the reason these yearly celebrations were possible, because of his non-stop organizational work during the weeks leading up to the events; and during the moment to moment problems that occur when one is trying to please 55 human beings and Jim Cornette, AND work as referee 'Mark Curtis' all at the same time.

Brian always did this with such unfailing patience, good humor, never forgetting to still be a fan of the very business he worked in. Thatís the reason why he always used the word 'Mark' in his ring name.

My favorite Fanweek story involves the time in August 1994 at Fanweek that I had to go with Brian to Knoxville's West Town Mall to get Jim Cornette a new tennis racquet. It seemed a local fan had taken it upon himself to steal Jim's racquet at a SMW house show the night before. Brian and I went to a sporting goods store and got the racquet. The clerk fell all over himself meeting 'Mark Curtis'. I stood and watched. As the clerk rang up the purchase, he asked me 'Can I help you, sir'. I replied 'I'm just here with Mr. Curtis'.

We walked away into the Mall to grab lunch, and Brian asked me (referring to my keeping kayfabe) 'How in hell did you just do that?' My reply: 'Because you and Jimmy taught us to remember that your folks down here 'still believe'.' It can be said, Brian, so did you, for your entire career in the wrestling industry.

It's the reason that he was honored at the last Eddie Gilbert Memorial Weekend in Philadelphia in 1998. He was the surprise honoree at the Gilbert Memorial Banquet. Brian had called me days before the Banquet, wondering why Jim Cornette and NWA-NJ promoter Dennis Coraluzzo were calling him numerous times to make sure he was coming.

Brian said 'Bob, what in hell is up here?' I replied, not wanting to ruin the surprise, but knowing he'd smell me fudging a mile away... 'Well, if you actually got Dennis to return a phone call...if you got Corny calling that many times in a week...I'd bring a suit...and be prepared to say something'.

The tribute that Jim Cornette did for him at that Gilbert Banquet was pure Cornette, totally irreverent as usual, but also with great feeling.

The kind of person Brian has been is also the reason that WCW honored him with a a night dedicated to him in Knoxville some months back, with a classic match of Chris Jericho/ Eddie Guerrero against Dean Malenko/Chris Benoit... and with Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen presenting Brian with a championship belt, then getting Brian involved in the finish. The Knoxville show was an event reported all over the wrestling world.

Most recently, there was the 'Curtis Comes Home' show in Rostraver, PA. Jim Cornette, Shane Douglas, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Mick Foley, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Tracy Smothers, Chris Candido, Tammy Sytch, Public Enemy, Dominic DeNucci, Al Snow, D-Lo Brown, Terry Taylor, Les Thatcher, Sandy Scott took part in this tribute in Brian's hometown.

Brian kept himself going through sheer will and determination that he refereed a match for a local independent promotion only days before his death. He had the often-expressed hope of returning to work fulltime for WCW, and never gave up that dream.

It can be said that at the time Brian Hildebrand left this world, he knew he was loved and respected by all within the business he himself loved so much.

While a small man in stature, Brian showed us all a giant heart that is an example for us all.

Brian is survived by his wife, Pamela Murphy-Hildebrand.

For those who wish to send condolences to Pam and to the Hildebrand family, you can do so at the following address:

The Hildebrand Family
1351 Gentry Road
Talbott, TN 37877-9015

According to WCW/1wrestling.com's Bob Ryder on last night's WCWLIVE, a memorial fund will be established in Brian's name. Information on this fund will be made available as soon as it is made public.

Rest in peace, dear friend. You will be missed more than you can ever know.

Until next time.....

If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at bobmagee1@hotmail.com