CinemaDave (cinemadave) wrote,

Thanksgiving 1984

During halftime at the annual Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving game, team owner Jerry Jones asks viewers to donate to the Salvation Army. For cynics everywhere, this could be seen as public relations ploy for the man who fired Tom Landry twenty years ago. I know I did, until I heard about a favor that he did for my old roommate from Florida State University, John Chang.

John and I met when we were freshmen at Kellum Hall. We usually saw each other in the television room when the Miami Dolphins played. We both became communication majors and when I moved off campus in 1984, John offered to be my room mate.

By our senior year on campus, John was already a prodigy. Besides being technically proficient, John was a nice guy who loved what he was studying and mastered the craft. Classmates wanted to work with him because he was a natural leader. He would get excited and yell about framing a shot, but John was always encouraging, not offensive. As Seminole classmate Mark Moorman said of John Chang;

"John Chang was the hardest working and most gracious human being I've ever met. In
college not only did he teach me how to shoot and edit, he taught me (and many
other people) how to be a human being. He led by example. Seeing how hard and
determined John was working, you had no choice but to give it everything you had,
just to try and keep up with him. Some of the fondest memories of my life are time
spent with John Chang. Shooting football games at Florida State John and I would
share duties. He would shoot for the first half of the game, and I would grip for
him, then I would shoot for the second half, and he would grip for me. Considering
John's talent and skill level, sharing these duties with him remains one of the
greatest honors of my career. I still think about him a lot, and still strive to 'keep up' with him as a person. I know that I'm a better human being because of
John Chang, and I'm convinced the world is a better place because of the example he
set for us all."

Moorman currently owns his own filmmaking business in South Florida and has been nominated for a Grammy Award for his documentary, "Tom Dowd & the Language of Music."

After graduation, John worked for the ABC affiliate, WPLG Channel 10 in Miami. Through his Seminoles sports contacts, John worked for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and eventually became the Dallas Cowboys director of broadcasting for nine seasons, John’s leadership helped Cowboy’s broadcasting grow into one of the NFL’s largest in-house television production departments.

One of the wings of the complex is even named after my old roommate. A posthumous honor, for John died of an abrupt cerebral hemorrhage on Dec. 12, 2002, three months before he was to be married.

When Jerry Jones found out about John's malady, he was at the hospital that night, his private plane at the ready to get John's mother, Judy Lai, to Dallas in the middle of the night. When I heard this story, my grudge with the owner of the Dallas Cowboys ended.

Twenty five years ago, John and I were relaxing in our roach infested apartment, after a field trip to South Carolina for the Seminoles-Gamecock game, the contest where John took my picture (Indiana Jones and the Marching Chiefs) John cooked our Thanksgiving dinner, a lemon chicken that was delicious. It was the best Thanksgiving I ever celebrated without my family.

If you would like to send a tax deductible donation, you may mail it to the address below.

John D. Chang Foundation
P.O. Box 1883
Miami, FL 33233-1883

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