HAMLER, Ohio - Richard "Rick" Schwiebert, 55, who coached the girls' basketball team at Patrick Henry High School for more than two decades, and was a bus driver and teaching assistant for the district, died Tuesday in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center.
He died of endocarditis, an inflammation of the inner layer of the heart, the family said.
Mr. Schwiebert compiled a 329-163 record in his 22 years as girls' basketball coach, and led Patrick Henry to six Northwest Ohio Athletic League titles.
He guided his team to the state title game in 2005, and that year was voted Division III state girls coach of the year by the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association.
While the strength of his teams was intimidating for opponents, as a person, Mr. Schwiebert was the consummate sportsman, recalled Bryan Hieber, Patrick Henry's athletic director.
"The thing about Rick is he always had a smile on his face, was always positive," he said. "I never ever saw him upset at officials, never saw him argue, never saw him get into it with opponents."
Bruce Schlosser, a former girls' basketball coach at Holgate High School, played against Mr. Schwiebert's teams for more than a decade.
"He had a sense of fair play that was above reproach," Mr. Schlosser said.
"He was a gentleman in every aspect of his life."
Born in Napoleon to Burdell and Helen Schwiebert, Mr. Schwiebert grew up on his family's farm just outside of Hamler. He played basketball and ran cross country in high school and was a member of the first class to graduate from Patrick Henry High School in 1970.
Afterward, he went to work on the farm to help his father, and he remained a farmer for the rest of his life. He later established a home on the land with his own family, said his brother, Scott Schwiebert.
About seven years ago, Mr. Schwiebert started working for the Patrick Henry Local Schools as a bus driver and a teacher's aide, a position that often involved supervising middle school and high school students during study hall or recess.
He volunteered with the Hamler Fire Department and was a former member of the Ohio Air National Guard. He was active in his church, St. Paul Catholic Chapel, Hamler, and was a leader of its youth group.
"He touched a lot of kids' lives," his brother, Scott Schwiebert, said. "He enjoyed helping them out in any way he could."
One of Mr. Schwiebert's former athletes, Alison Meyer, recalled her coach's always-positive attitude, and his dedication to his players' success.
"The thing I remember most was the amount of time he put into it," Miss Meyer said. "He really loved the sport, and he wanted us to love it, too."
Surviving are his wife, Peggy Schwiebert; sons, Brendon, Blaine, and Brett; sister, Pat Schwiebert, and brother, Scott.
Visitation will be after 2 p.m. today in the Rodenberger Funeral Home, Napoleon. Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in St. Paul Catholic Chapel, Hamler.