To the editor — I want to pay tribute to Monroe Smith Wilks, a great friend, teammate and Yakima YMCA icon, who passed away this February. We crossed paths at the YMCA in the 1970s because we shared the same passion for the game of basketball. As the years passed, the friendship blossomed on the court as well as off.

He said, life here on Earth would be short compared to eternal salvation and that you need to be ready.

Monroe lived his life accordingly. Upon learning of his passing, I tried to think of all the things we had done. If felt like losing a family member, because he was like a big brother.

To describe Monroe in one word, genuine would be it. He possessed a host of intangible characteristics and qualities that can’t be put into words other than “vintage Monroe.”

He had that classic old-school appeal that one could relate to. Monroe was just being himself. He was a one-of-a-kind individual who can’t and won’t be duplicated.

I’m saddened by his departure, but his spirit will live on in the hearts of all who were blessed to know him. We love you, man!