Courtesy photo

Bill Paxton, right, directs Shia LaBeouf in “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” the film that chronicled Francis Ouimet’s unexpected 1913 U.S. Open victory at The Country Club. Paxton died on Feb. 25 at age 61.

By ANNE MARIE TOBIN

Bill Paxton’s death last week brought back a few memories. Most people remember him as Helen Hunt’s co-star in the movie “Twister” or as Brock Lovett, the treasure hunter searching for the Heart of the Ocean diamond in “Titanic.”  

Paxton also was the director of the 2005 Disney movie, “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” based on the Mark Frost book of the same name about Francis Ouimet’s historic 1913 U.S. Open victory at The Country Club.

I was privileged to have dinner with Paxton, Frost, Bob Donovan (executive director of the Ouimet Scholarship Fund) and a few board members at Abe & Louie’s in Boston, I think in 2004. Paxton visited the Ouimet Museum and was scouting potential movie locations. He was larger than life, with a personality that was infectious. He told us about his trip to the wreck of the Titanic. He said it took more than three hours to reach the site and that it was one of the most incredible things he had ever experienced. That dinner was one of the most incredible things I had ever experienced.  

Paxton-Autograph_Page_2It was actually very funny, as when he was talking about the movie and the role of Stella Ouimet, Francis’ wife. Donovan and I interrupted and said, “Wait a minute, Francis had not yet met his wife in 1913. Why is that character not factual?” Paxton leaned over, smiled, and said, “Anne Marie. Every movie has to have a love interest!”

A few months later, my then-13-year old daughter and I attended the movie premiere in Attleboro. Amy was intrigued that I had met the “Titanic” salvage boat operator. “Do you think he’ll remember you Mom?” I replied, “Of course not, why would he?” Well, he did remember all of us, and greeted me by name (with a big hug), then greeted my daughter by name, asking how her soccer and softball and golf and tennis (and school) was going! He even gave her an autograph (see above).

Truly, my 15 minutes of parenting fame!

Paxton was a true professional and passionate about life. He was a great supporter of the Ouimet Fund and will be missed.

 

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