One from the Where Were They Then? file: Steve Napper, the embalmer who dropped the dime on a Virginia funeral home for treating dead bodies like sacks of potatoes, was a star athlete around here in a former life.
First, from the Washington Post’s front-page account of sordidness witnessed by Napper while employed by National Funeral Home in Falls Church:
During his time there, Napper said, as many as 200 corpses were left on makeshift gurneys in the garage, in hallways and in a back room, unrefrigerated and leaking fluids onto the floor. Some were stored on cardboard boxes or were balanced on biohazard containers. At least half a dozen veterans destined for the hallowed ground at Arlington National Cemetery were left in their coffins on a garage rack, Napper said.
He began to take photographs in December and presented them to the Virginia Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers. Federici and Napper’s observations — accounts supported by three others who have worked there — have led to a probe by the state board, although board officials said they were prohibited by law from disclosing such an inquiry. Several people said they were interviewed by a board investigator in recent weeks.
The last time Napper was so prominently featured in a Post piece came in March 1992. Then, he was a hefty 6’6″ junior center for DeMatha’s basketball team, playing Catholic League rival St. John’s for the conference title before a crowd of 3,000 people.
With four seconds left in overtime and the score tied, Napper was fouled and sent to the foul line to shoot two free throws.
That’s a lot of pressure. Then the St. John’s coach called a timeout to freeze the kid.
Columnist Michael Wilbon wrote that Napper was shaking when he went to the sidelines before stepping to the line. So DeMatha coach Morgan Wootten gave a pep talk that partially explains why he’s the winningest hoops coach of all time.
“Okay, you make one, I buy you a milkshake,” Wootten said. Napper accepted the offer and thought he had a deal.
But before breaking the huddle, Wootten reneged. “Hey, Steve,” the coach yelled, “you’re overweight anyway. Forget the milkshake.”
Napper quit laughing in time to make one shot. DeMatha won its 28th league title.
And folks are still talking about the milkshake.