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Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011
 

Tom Henschel, a diehard Steelers fan who grew up in Natrona Heights, has sad memories of Super Bowl XLV that have nothing to do with the final score.

Henschel's Never Miss a Super Bowl Club lost one of its four members Feb. 10 when Bob Cook of Brown Deer, Wis., died at age 79.

Cook missed the Super Bowl in Dallas five days earlier after attending each of the previous 44 games. He was confined to the hospital with a blood infection.

"We were packed and ready to go," Cook's wife Sarah told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "He was just too weak to go."

Cook's daughters attended the game, in which his beloved Packers defeated the Steelers, and they honored their father by holding up a stick with his picture attached.

Henschel said he met Cook's daughters at Cowboys Stadium and spoke briefly with Cook on their cell phone.

Henschel, who has residences in Winfield Township and Tampa, Fla., was one of five original members of the club that lost a member a few years ago when Stan Whittaker, 89, of Denver dropped out for health reasons.

The other members are Larry Jacobson of San Francisco and Don Crisman of Kennebunk, Maine. Each year, the group gets together for lunch the day before the game.

"It's a sad day for the Never Miss Club," said Crisman, who was featured along with Cook, Henschel and Jacobson in a TV commercial for Visa.

Before Cook's illness, all five men had attended each of the 44 Super Bowls since 1967. This year's game was one of the few in which two members had their favorite teams competing.

The Packers played Crisman's Patriots in 1997 and Whittaker's Broncos in '98 before Cook started attending the games with the others. Cook joined the group in 2002 for Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans.

"I wanted to make a side wager with Bob," Henschel said. "I came back broken-hearted."

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