Warm sunlight shined through the roof of U.S. Bank Stadium.
Fans from across the State of Minnesota and beyond flocked to the venue in their purple and gold, or camo, or purple camo filing through the massive doors to honor Bud Grant's immense legacy.
Grant's public memorial service was held on May 21, a day after what would have been the Minnesota icon's 96th birthday.
Bud was the proud father to six children and deeply loved his 16 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. But his family graciously recognizes they also "shared" their dad with countless others – some Bud had met and some he hadn't – whom he'd impacted over the years.
"We are no different than any other Minnesota family," Mike Grant, one of Bud's sons, said during a speech at the podium. "We just happen to have a father and grandfather and great grandfather who was and is the most recognizable sports figure in Minnesota sports. My sisters Kathy and Laurie and brothers Pete and Dan want to thank you for all your support and your love for our dad. We fully realize that we shared our dad with the people of the Upper Midwest.
"I think in many ways to all of you, he was an old friend," Mike added. "People would see him out and about, and he was happy to visit. They saw him as one of their own. He would sit and talk to people at his garage sales, and people felt he was just the common man."
The sentiments Mike spoke of were demonstrated over the years by letters sent to Bud during his time coaching the Vikings and following his retirement. Some handwritten, ranging from flowing, formal cursive to children's authentically messy lettering; others were typed and mailed on stationary.
Many of those notes were captured through "Letters to Bud," an in-depth content series released to fans in 2018.
So when Bud passed in his Bloomington, Minnesota, home on March 11, it seemed only fitting that fans be given one final chance to say goodbye.
A handful mailed in letters to the Vikings training facility in Eagan, while others took the opportunity at Bud's memorial service to jot messages on specially designed "Remembering Bud Grant" letterhead.
Some knew Bud personally, such as longtime Vikings seamstress Penny Bryce, who wrote:
I loved lettering your coaching shirts, along with the team name. I admired your commitment to the team, but you also took time to love the outdoors and fishing and hunting. Rest in peace, Bud.
Isabelle Montgomery, believed to be the memorial's eldest attendant at 103, personally met the Hall of Fame coach at a Minnesota Vikings Museum event just one month and one day prior to Bud's passing.
After Bud Grant's passing in March 2023, fans were invited to write final letters to the legendary coach and his family.
Montgomery said she was "very happy" to honor Bud's life and legacy at U.S. Bank Stadium.
I was so happy to have met him … We talked about my brother who had played baseball with Bud in Osceola, WI, back in the day. It was an honor for me to have shaken his hand that day. I have watched the Vikings since 1969 and he was a big part of my memories. I am one of the Vikings greatest fans. A FAN FOR LIFE.
Countless Vikings faithful credit Bud for their avid fandom, including Pat Barclay – a Vikings Season Ticket Holder since 2000 and fan since 1969.
Barclay wrote that Bud "might have been the main reason" she fell in love with the team five-plus decades ago. She admired his "no-nonsense, disciplined approach" and said the Vikings never were truly out of a game with Bud at the helm.
Bud brought the most out of his players because he respected them and they respected him. Bud ALWAYS had the right answer.
For as much as Bud influenced complete strangers, he left an indelible impact on those who played for him during his 18 seasons of leading the Vikings – a run that included 11 division titles and four Super Bowl appearances.
"He was a mentor and friend to many of us," Vikings Legend Ahmad Rashad said in a video message played at Bud's memorial service. "He had an uncanny ability to inspire and motivate his players. "It brought the best out of me. He taught us not only how to be better athletes but also how to be better human beings."
View photos of the Bud Grant patch the Vikings will wear on their jerseys during the Week 1 home opener against the Buccaneers.
Jim Marshall, whom Bud always called "a special, special player," told Vikings.com last week that the Vikings expected to win with Bud as their coach.
"Bud told us, 'Winning is a habit.' He said, 'The more you believe you can win, the more chance, the more opportunity you're going to see to do something to win the football game," Marshall said.
The former Purple People Eater captained the Vikings, encouraging the rest of Minnesota's locker room to follow Bud's ways.
"You've got to find somebody that buys a ticket to the ride, or nobody's going to follow," Marshall said. "I immediately saw such common sense; he sounded like my father or my grandfather talking to me."
Bud was, in a way, all of those things to the State of Minnesota. Coach. Father. Grandfather. Mentor. Friend.
View photos from the public celebration of life for Vikings Legend Bud Grant at U.S. Bank Stadium on May 21, 2023.
To many of us, it still doesn't seem real that Bud is gone. We expect him to walk into the Vikings headquarter cafeteria. To visit with Head Coach Kevin O'Connell in his office, to attend a high school football game or to head up to his lakeside cabin with his longtime partner, Pat.
Vikings Legend Scott Studwell summed it up well at U.S. Bank Stadium:
"When I heard about Bud's passing, the first thing that came to my mind was, 'Bud's not supposed to die. Bud's supposed to live forever.'"
And that's the thing about icons. They forever live on in our hearts.