MISSOULA – It’s never too late in life to make a lifelong friend, even when you’re more than 100 years old.
We have the story of two University of Montana legends who made a connection after discovering they shared the same secret to living a long life. In Emma Lommasson’s apartment hangs a picture of former Grizzly game caller, Mick Holien.
On the day we stopped by, he was there in person, another chapter in a friendship that started just a few years ago when Lommasson wanted to meet the man behind the microphone.
“I didn’t want to leave this earth without meeting this man. He has a beautiful voice on the air and is pleasant to listen to, end of story," Lommasson said.
"So she called me up and of course, I didn’t know about her other than the Lommasson Center and we went out to the country club and we had a 1½- hour lunch and I just hit it off with her and we just had a high old time," Holien said. "And so I started calling her. I called her when I thought about it then it was once a month and then I got into calling her every Sunday”
To uncover such a friendship later in life is a blessing. But for Holien and Lommasson it makes sense — Emma was born in the same month as Mick’s own mother in 1911.
“Maybe it has to do with the fact that I discovered my mother would be that age," Holien told MTN News. "She’s been gone since 1982. So I get a second chance to see how that would be”
Both have surrounded themselves with young people. For Lommasson, it was her career on the UM campus while for Holien, it was calling UM games on the radio. The kids keep both of them young.
“Young people are quick up here. And bright and alert and interested in today’s world. And young people are always thinking and looking forward," Lommasson said.
"All of my pals are all 15 years younger than I am. Maybe it’s because I was an only child. So I guess I’ve always been surrounded by youth. Who knows? But it’s all about that vitality and vim and vigor," Holien said.
Lommasson is a living history at the University of Montana. She’s met all but three UM presidents and probably bleeds maroon and silver. And where Holien might have his ever-present tape recorder with him, he resists the urge to interview Lommasson, because that’s not what this friendship is about.
“It’s not that I’m not interested in those things, but when she wants to tell me about them," Holien said.
But when she tells her stories, Holien listens and when Lommasson speaks, we all learn a little something. “My mother always said, sit back and listen. And you will learn and that’s the best advice you can give somebody," she said.
It’s a friendship forged from mutual respect, a love for the Griz, and the shared secret to a long life that became an unexpected surprise
"She always asks ‘why am I still alive? I don’t know why I’m still here.’ And I always say ‘well, what would I do if I didn’t have you to talk to every week? You’re my centering post, my guiding light’," Holien explained.
We caught Lommasson on a casual day. She tells us she’s never been out in public in slacks. Holien was just nominated to the Montana Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. You can hear him on KERR radio.