David and Eileen Fanning and their four boys were a typical Southern Arizona family of the 20th century. They left Illinois, followed the sun, took a chance and started over.
David Fanning, who retired from the phone company in Sandwich, Ill., became active in the Sahuarita school system and so distinguished himself that the gymnasium at Continental Elementary is named in his honor. His family settled in and flourished, in life and in sports.
His son, John, coached Rio Rico to the 2004 boys state 3A basketball championship and is now a middle school principal.
Another son, Steve, is established in the floor and tile business and has spent 16 seasons coaching at Sahuarita High School. Once, after scoring four touchdowns in a youth league football game, Steve's friends began to call him "Skeets," after world-class hurdler Renaldo Nehemiah.
Another son, Chris, won the state golf championship as a high school sophomore, but was so into baseball, so into his beloved Chicago Cubs, that his family and friends call him "Cub." Not Chris. Not Coach Fanning. Cub.
For the last 16 years, Skeets and Cub coached the Sahuarita softball team with such authority that the Mustangs won 391 games, made eight state championship appearances and won the title in 1999 and 2011.
Cub is the head coach, with 413 career victories, but down the stretch this season, Skeets made out the lineup. They are almost inseparable, brothers who fill their conversations with idle chat of baseball and the woeful Cubs even though the Fanning family has become a softball institution in Sahuarita.
They won it all in 1999, going 31-3 in what was probably the single best sports team in school history. And this year, favored from start to finish, they won it again. Sahuarita went 32-4, won the 4A-II state championship and finished with 22 consecutive victories..
After the game Chris Fanning, Cub, told the Mustangs that he was retiring from coaching.
Find out more about Fanning's retirement in Thursday's Arizona Daily Star.