Blue Dukes Remember “The Rev”

Michael HalcombIn Dukes history, 1986 was a particularly noteworthy year.

Head Coach Dick Baer was running the Varsity offense with Marcus Burris (#32) at tailback and Jim Bourne (#84) at tight-end. Defensive Coordinator Jim Tietjen was in the process of building a suffocating defense with the help of players like Mark Whitman (#75) and Kyle McKenna (#65).

“Duke Pride” was introduced that year as a battle cry for players, coaches and fans and a slogan that united cheering families and high school students throughout the Whitefish Bay community.

The ’86 season would also see the conspicuous appearance of a smiling man in a bright yellow jacket walking along the sidelines, amateur photographer Michael “The Rev” Halcomb. Under Duke blue skies and through gale force winds and rain, he faithfully carried out his duties as unofficial team photographer for the next decade.

On Aug. 31, 2016, Halcomb passed away from complications resulting from a tragic car crash in 2015 when an oncoming driver drifted into his lane.

I not only knew “The Rev,” but played alongside and was friends with his three sons Jon (Class of ’88), Joel (Class of ’89), and Jeremy (Class of ’92), who were all captains on their respective teams.

Halcomb’s photos, while somewhat blurry at first, improved dramatically over the years, capturing every Blue Duke who crossed his lens. He also began the tradition of enlarging his pictures to poster size and presenting them to each player during the team banquet at the end of each season. It’s a 30-year legacy that team photographer Brad Caspari carries on to the present day.

As the years went on, “The Rev” continued his close connection with the players he photographed, even officiating several weddings including Eric and Patsy Johnson, Mike and Mary Bortolotti and John and Joslyn Sapp.  He is the closest thing Whitefish Bay has had to team chaplain, and former players still hang their posters with pride in their basements, garages and even their kid’s rooms.

The thoughts and prayers of everyone in the Blue Dukes Nation are with the Halcomb Family.

And thanks, Rev. I still have my posters.