The cartoonist and the coach: Both beloved, they died on the same day.
It was a coincidence that didn't strike anyone other than a few people around Thousand Oaks as a little odd.
After all, so little appeared to link Charles Schulz and Tom Landry.
Over the decades, Schulz's art was taped to countless American refrigerators.
Over the decades, Tom Landry's art flashed across countless American TV screens.
Millions of fans knew Landry's face the way they knew the face of their sternest teacher. He was stony and square-jawed, a stoic in a fedora.
Few knew Schulz's face. But everyone delighted in the bemused, pie-pan mug of his boy neurotic, Charlie Brown.
To Schulz, sport was strapping on a pair of skates and getting up a quick round of ice hockey on the rink he built in Santa Rosa.
To Landry, sport was--well, it goes without saying.
The two men seemed to have no particular connection--unless you happen to know a little about Cal Lutheran University.
When it was founded, it was known as California Lutheran College. Before the first students sent out for the first pizza for the first all-night bull session, the dormitories were occupied by a football team called the Dallas Cowboys.
Drawn by weather milder than the seasonal inferno in Texas, the Cowboys put down roots in rolling ranch country, isolated from the urban distractions just down the road in Los Angeles.
Under the penetrating gaze of Tom Landry, the Cowboys sweated out their summers at the new school. In fact, the campus came to be known as "Fort Landry," and locals from the little village of Thousand Oaks--population 3,000 in 1963--came to gape at players the size of redwoods, get some autographs, and watch some great football--free of charge.
Each summer for 26 years, Landry would introduce his squad to the fast-growing community at a huge barbecue on the football field. Admiring kids would get to carry the helmets of their favorite players from the field to the locker room at the end of each practice, with each kid "helping" the same player all summer.
"Close relationships developed between the players and local families," said Bill Hamm, one of the school's former vice presidents. "And that tone was set by Tom Landry."
So esteemed was Landry at CLU that the school established a yearly award in his honor in 1980 and threw a lavish banquet to celebrate the winner. Recipients of the Landry Medal have been chosen for reaching the top in their professions and exerting a positive influence on kids.
The list of honorees is heavy with the kinds of people who routinely get honored: Gerald Ford, Pete Wilson, George Deukmejian, Nancy Reagan.
But the very first recipient was a droll fellow who could imagine a beagle imagining himself as an ace pilot in World War I.
"I was on the committee that compiled a list of national figures, and the name of Charles Schulz rose to the top very quickly," said Hamm, who now directs a fund-raising foundation for private colleges. "I don't remember any particular context, except that everyone admired him."
At the banquet, Landry and Schulz exchanged some jovial remarks, and then went their ways. It is not known whether these two giants met again or whether anyone included them in the same thought until they both died last Saturday, mutually ending their own eras.
Landry was 75. Schulz was 77.
Steve Chawkins can be reached at 653-7561 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.