Lou Holtz embodies the best of what the Upper Ohio Valley can create in a person.
Hard work? No one could ever question the tireless work ethic of a man who gives of himself, spent a lifetime coaching and still is in demand as a TV broadcaster, football analyst and public speaker.
Dedication? He's been married for more than 50 years to the same woman in a world where marriages are tossed aside as public persons move through their careers.
Ethics? Never in his career as a major college coach did one hear the kinds of accusations that follow today's successful coaches around from job to job.
Hard-nosed? One doesn't get to coach national championship winners and contenders at college football's highest level without demanding the best from his players.
Holtz also is humble. He hasn't forgotten his roots.
During the 16 Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame ceremonies on Monday, Holtz spoke of driving his grandchildren through Follansbee and showing them where he was born. The famous coach who now plays golf with celebrities and lives in Florida is not ashamed to say he was born in a little house in Follansbee, because to Holtz, who he became started right at birth.
"I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth," he said, a contradiction for sure to the poverty into which baby Lou Holtz arrived.
The silver spoon came in the family and the community, in the lessons he learned about family and life and what counted. It wasn't money or fame or fortune, though those surely have come his way.
It was about those values of hard work, dedication and ethics, about being part of something bigger than yourself, about sacrifice.
"Show me anyone who has achieved success at anything, and I will show you sacrifice," Holtz said.
It's about being tough enough to realize that the cruelty of life isn't the part that should define you.
"You can stay down or pick yourself up. It's all you have. I know I have no chance to succeed if I do not believe in myself," he said.
Holtz is coming back to the area for the celebration on Thursday for the kickoff of the annual Follansbee Community Days.
"I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth because I was born in the greatest country on Earth. I was born to people who taught me the value of choices, who taught me to take responsibility for my actions," he said.
"I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. It wasn't what I had. It's who I had."
And that, he says, all originates right here, in Follansbee where he was born and in East Liverpool, where he grew up.
We couldn't ask for a better representative of what the Ohio Valley is.