photo The Checker King
By David L. Gould and Kevin Kelley

"You know how many of us there are who lost their spouses? There are nine million of us. And you know, if you're not careful, you'll have a lot of suicides, because people don't talk to us." Harold O'Brien

At the age of 68, Harold O'Brien met the love of his life and married for the first time. Except when he was drafted into World War II, Harold had never ventured far from his farm and hometown, but Norma convinced him to enter the Iowa state Checkers Championship. With her encouragement and faith, and against very long odds, Harold won the championship.

Only a few months later, though, Norma died, and Harold began a six-year struggle with severe depression. At one point, realizing that he was suicidal, he had himself hospitalized. One morning, in his eighty-first year, Harold awoke thinking about how disappointed Norma would have been with his floundering life. In her memory, he decided to enter the National Championships. This is a warm and inspiring story that is nonetheless honest about the darker realities of aging and depression.

39 minutes
2001
Purchase $229 VHS
Order No. QA-411
ISBN (VHS) 1-57295-411-6

Reviews
"The story is so common as to be unique as subtly surprising as an unseen double-jump." Ted Cox Daily Herald

"One of the things that gripped us was the sense of our own future. It's the deep, hidden struggle of people who live around us, in our neighborhood. It's very down-to-earth, very personal." Charles Jarvis, United Seniors Association

"A moving biography. Chronicles Harold's emergence out of depression and shows the struggles of older Americans to find life after the death of a spouse, as well as one man's drive to share his love and passion for the game of checkers. Recommended" Educational Media Reviews Online
 

Awards & Conference Screenings
DOCtober, International Documentary Association
American Society on Aging
 


Harold O'Brien Obituary

Grandmasters, Masters, & Players Obituaries