Fort Worth Country Day School and Edwards Ranch will be getting a little taste of Hollywood this weekend. Director/screenwriter Tim Williams is filming a short subject in those locations from Friday through Sunday based on the life of the late U.S. Marine lieutenant colonel Ralph “Rocky” Rosacker, who taught and coached football at the school in the late ’60s.
Williams, who was one of Rosacker’s students, hopes to leverage interest from the short into a feature film to be titled The Colonel. Kevin Durand (Vikings, The Strain, Fruitvale Station) is portraying Rosacker.
Williams, 56, says he has been toying with the idea of telling Rosacker’s life since giving the eulogy at the coach’s funeral in 2001. But it wasn’t until 2009, when he was working on a project in Iraq as a civilian and found himself in an area that was being shelled, that he decided to make it a priority.
“[I thought] Holy cow, I may not be around, I’d better get on it,” he said in a phone interview Monday. “I’ve got to tell this story.”
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He wrote the first draft in two months.
According to an obituary in the Daily Oklahoman, Rosacker was born in Stafford, Kan., won a football scholarship to the University of Kansas, but joined the Marines at the age of 20 during WWII. He was awarded four bronze stars and two Purple Hearts for his role in both WWII and the Korean conflict. He then became an educator at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I. He would also earn a master’s degree in political science from Boston University.
After retiring, he moved to Oklahoma City, where he became an educator at the Casady School in Oklahoma City. From there, he came to Fort Worth Country Day. The athletic field at the school is named after him.
Williams says Rosacker, whose nickname was The Colonel, made a huge impact on him. “At first, he was a very foreign taste to acquire,” Williams said of Rosacker’s rigorous, no-nonsense approach to coaching and teaching. “It was one of those trials by fire for middle-school boys. We were just goofballs. This guy came into my life like a meteor hit right next to you.
“He was extremely tough but after he would tell you he loved you. He became very much like a second father.”
Williams says the full-length script, which was noticed at the 2013 Final Draft/Big Break screenwriting competition and at last year’s Austin Film Festival, is finished.