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Published: Friday, 3/12/2010

Football coach, teacher had second job with railroad

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

William C. Wirick, a Toledo science teacher for 30 years who was the first football coach at Bowsher High School and a track coach of champions at Libbey High, died of cancer Monday at Perrysburg Care and Rehabilitation Center.

Mr. Wirick, 84, of Perrysburg retired as a Bowsher teacher in 1982. He and his wife, Eileen, moved to California to be near their sons in the Sacramento area.

He returned to northwest Ohio about eight years ago and resumed officiating high school track events.

"He understood the sport, and he knew the sport was for the kids and not the officials," said Ron Schlievert, retired Bowsher head track coach and assistant track coach at Libbey when Mr. Wirick was head coach.

"He would take that into consideration, setting up heats, and he was always fair," Mr. Schlievert said. "Coaches appreciated that all over Ohio when we worked with him."

Mr. Wirick was inducted in 1980 into the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame.

He was named head football coach for the new school, Bowsher, in April, 1962, and got to work for the school's September opening. He chose the uniforms and equipment - and even the school colors, Columbia blue and red, recalled Mr. Schlievert, another charter Bowsher faculty member.

Mr. Wirick coached four seasons of Bowsher football. His players included sons William, Jr. - who was one the school's first All-City players - and Thomas.

"He worked us harder than anybody, because he wasn't going to show favoritism - not a chance," Thomas said.

William, Jr., enlisted in the Marine Corps and was sent to Vietnam, where he was killed in 1968 while using his body to shield a wounded comrade from sniper fire. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.

"That crushed Dad," son Thomas said. "That hurt him all through his life."

The flagpole at the football stadium was dedicated to William, Jr., at the first home football game in 1969. The Wiricks, William, Sr., and Jr., were the only father-son inductees into the Bowsher Hall of Fame, said Dave Schaetzke, a former Bowsher player and coach.

For a decade starting in 1952, Mr. Wirick was head track coach at Libbey, and his team won all 10 City League championships and four district titles. He coached four individual state champions.

"He had a philosophy that he could see good in every kid," Mr. Schlievert said. "He never cut anybody and always found a place for every individual to have some success. He encouraged everyone, and it paid off."

He was an inductee into the City League Hall of Fame.

He began his career as a science teacher and a football, basketball, and track coach at Perrysburg High School.

During his years as a teacher and coach, after a day at school, he worked another eight hours for the railroad - the New York Central, which became Penn Central, then Conrail - switching boxcars in the South Toledo yard. He retired in 1985.

Until January, he lifted weights three days a week. In 1998, he finished second in the Mr. and Mrs. Western U.S. bodybuilding contest in San Francisco. He skied into his 80s. He was a high school basketball official, running up and down the floor, until his mid-50s.

He also traveled the world, from the Great Wall of China to Machu Picchu, and took 24 cruises.

"He was a man's man. He lived life to the fullest," son Thomas said.

Mr. Wirick was born Oct. 8, 1925, and was a graduate of DeVilbiss High School, where he played clarinet in the band and guard on the football team. He was in the Navy at the end of World War II.

He followed the example of his aunt, Minnie Staler, and became a teacher. He received a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University, where he played football, and a master's degree from Columbia University.

He and his wife, Eileen, married Aug. 9, 1947. She died in April, 2002.

Surviving are his sons, Thomas, John, and James Wirick; sister, Mary Alice Bailey; brother, Jack Wirick; two grandsons, and three great-grandchildren.

The body will be in the Bersticker-Scott Funeral Home after 2 p.m. today. Masonic services by the Damascus-Collingwood Lodge will be at 7 tonight. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow in Faith Community United Church of Christ, of which he was a member.

The family suggests tributes to the church.

Contact Mark Zaborney at:

mzaborney@theblade.com

or 419-724-6182.



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