Laurie Simkins knows quite a man.
He starred as Growly Bear, served as guest star of every neighborhood pick-up game played with ball, bat or imaginary monster and patiently tried to teach volleyball to a girl with plenty of interest but precious little athletic ability.
Harley Knosher was — and still is — the flame that drew children like moths. Some knew him as a swim coach at Lake Rice, others as a golf coach, basketball coach or Knox College’s athletic director for 32 years.
To Laurie, Knosher is simply Dad.
The 45-year-old recalled growing up with one of Galesburg’s most revered coaches Tuesday afternoon while she hung uniform pants in the new retail storefront at Go Van Gogh’s: The T-shirt Factory.
“When I think of my dad, I think of the neighborhood games he played with us after he got home from work,” Laurie said. “We played a game called Growly Bear Around the House. Of course, he played the Growly Bear. He shuffled around the house in the dark growling and we all ran around screaming.
“He always played the neighborhood games with us. I think a lot of kids might remember him from that.”