High school football team supports fan after his death

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BOTETOURT Co, Va. (WDBJ) -- For years, a Botetourt County, Virginia man avidly followed the Lord Botetourt High School football team.

He recently passed away, but it's what the football team did afterward that's catching his family by surprise.

“I'll be lost without him,” said Pauline Baumgartner, Frank Baumgartner’s wife,

Baumgartner lost her husband, Frank, on Friday, Sept. 29. The two shared 60 years together.

Their grandson, Caleb Francis, says his grandfather was a big outdoorsman.

“He was just really really big into sports,” he said.

“He loved football; loved all kind of sports," Pauline added.

Frank perhaps felt no closer to home than the home of the Cavaliers.

“He always made sure that he made those games, no matter how sick he was,” said Francis.

“[It] didn't matter if it was 20 degrees outside, snowing, he'd be there,” said Landon Wilkes, another of his grandsons.

Even though he was under hospice care, he was under the Friday night lights for every home game, including last week's match-up against Staunton River.

“He'd be up there almost play calling," Wilkes said. "He'd be like, 'Yeah, they're going to throw a short pass this play, they're going to run it.'”

With two minutes left in the game, his family says he suffered a medical emergency and passed away -- at the place he loved so much.

“It just makes me speechless, you know,” said Francis. “I'm just happy that he could be where he wanted to be.”

“It was an overwhelming feeling to know that someone cared that much about what we were doing,” said Jamie Harless, Lord Botetourt head football coach.

Harless never met Frank, but learned about his story after the game -- which is when he made a decision.

“I just think it was the right thing to do,” said Harless.

Monday, the team showed up to Frank's visitation to pay their respects to a great fan.

“He was always supporting us and we felt like we needed to support him and his family,” said Shane Wolford, a player on the team.

“I couldn't believe it," Pauline said. "I was shocked.”

She also received a signed football from the entire team. It’s a bright spot in one of the family's most difficult days, and a reminder that no gesture is too small to make a difference.

“Sometimes the small tokens mean the most," Francis said. "I mean, that ball is probably worth a million bucks to everyone in this family.”

Read the original version of this article at wdbj7.com.