“We can’t all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.” — Will Rogers
Some people are born to excel on the playing field; it is the purpose of others to applaud them from the stands. Without both, there would be no contest worthy of mention.
And although we tend to associate viewing the contest with sitting and watching, Marilyn Rose-Thudium (aka “The Flag Lady”) has never warmed a seat at the University of Missouri’s Faurot Field for long.
Marilyn still fondly recalls the first time her Dad asked her if she wanted to attend an M.U. football game. As postmaster, it was his habit to close the Brookfield Post Office early on Saturdays and head for Columbia when there was a home football game at M.U.
It was probably no coincidence that Dick Rose, the other man in Marilyn’s life, shared her love for Missouri football as well. If it hadn’t been for America’s entry into WWII in 1941, Rose would have played football on scholarship for M.U. Instead, he heeded the call of duty and joined the Merchant Marine. And when Rose came home in 1948, duty to country was replaced by duty to family; his father owned a construction company in Brookfield, and he was in desperate need of Dick’s help. Once again, Dick’s passion to take to the gridiron as an M.U. Tiger had to take a back seat to someone else’s need. But a true Tiger fan bleeds black and gold until he takes his last breath...
Dick married Marilyn the following year and purchased season tickets so they could enjoy Faurot Field football bedlam together. “That was in 1949,” shares Marilyn, “and I’ve had season tickets every year since.” She adds, “Dick said he could no longer play football for the Tigers, but he wasn’t going to hang up his love for the game along with his cleats.”
For the next 30 years Marilyn and Dick Rose were regular fixtures at Faurot, and neither the 1976 car accident that put him on crutches for six months nor the birth of their oldest daughter ever sidelined the football-enamored couple. The only thing that changed was their seating assignment. When Dick’s injured legs made it difficult for him to get to the upper deck that was added to the Faurot Field complex in the mid-70s, the Roses were reassigned to ground-level seats, and aisle 39 became the runway for a flying tiger of a different sort.
Marilyn recounts that her tenure as the Tiger’s unofficial Flag Lady began in 1976 when she and Dick, Lane and Emmalee Thudium, and Marge and Dean Mosley piled into a rented Winnebago and headed out for Lincoln, Nebraska. The M.U. black and gold flag Marilyn had stitched for the occasion was to take on more significance than she ever imagined at the time. The three couples had just reached their seats at the University of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium on November 5, 1977 when Emmalee suggested to Marilyn, “Let’s take your flag and try to race out there with the team when they take the field.” To the astonishment of their husbands and Marilyn’s daughter, who was an M.U. Cheerleader at the time, the pair of ladies on a mission that day led their Tigers onto the playing field. The 17th ranked Tigers then put on an inspired performance and as the record indicates, they beat the Cornhuskers, then ranked third in the nation, by a score of 34 to 24.
From that day forward, Marilyn never missed a Tiger’s home football game, and she brought her M.U. flag to every one of them. “I only run down aisle 39 waving my flag when we score a touchdown,” explains Marilyn.