William Urban; 1970-2013: Wrestling coach taught English 13 years in Swanton


SWANTON — William Urban, an English teacher and wrestling coach at Swanton High School who could motivate students and athletes alike, died Wednesday while doing yard work at his home in Fulton County's Swan Creek Township. He was 42.

His wife, Jennifer, did not yet know the cause of death. An autopsy was performed, she said.

Mr. Urban was Swanton High's head wrestling coach, but stepped back to be an assistant coach about seven years ago, when his youngest son was born.

“He wanted to be able to have more time with the family,” his wife said.

He'd also taught English literature the last 13 years at Swanton High. Graduates frequently returned to tell him that his classes were their best preparation for college.

“He had this uncanny ability to get through to the kids to pay attention, with a sense of humor, and he would not put up with any fooling around,” said Greg Hallett, the head wrestling coach and a longtime friend. “The kids wanted to do well for him, because he was such a good person. He was about making their experience a valuable one.”

His wife added: “He had a very positive persona. He made people feel at ease.”

Those around Mr. Urban could tell he enjoyed his school responsibilities.

“That was evident every day,” said Steve Gfell, Swanton High School principal — and a high school classmate. “Bill was a true gentleman. That's the best way I can describe it. He was someone who was extremely well-regarded by our parents and kids and staff.”

Classes on Tuesday have been canceled district-wide, Mr. Gfell said.

“He touched a lot of lives,” Mr. Gfell said.

Mr. Urban and Mr. Hallett became wrestling assistant coaches for Joe Carone starting in 2000. When Mr. Urban became head coach, Mr. Hallett remained as his assistant before they reversed roles.

“We've done it together for so long, we knew what each other were thinking,” Mr. Hallett said.“Any time I was stuck on something, he was there, time and time again.”

He was born Nov. 24, 1970, to Anna Catherine and Gilbert Urban. The family moved to the Swanton area when he was 5, and he attended St. Richard Catholic School and St. John's Jesuit High School, where he wrestled and played center on the football team. He was a 1989 graduate.

He wrestled for the University of Toledo as an undergraduate, while coaching freshman football and wrestling at St. John's. He continued to coach at St. John's during his first teaching job at St. Wendelin High School in Fostoria. He later was hired to teach English at St. John's, where he was head wrestling coach for several years.

He received bachelor's and master's of education degrees from UT.

He was a member of St. Richard Catholic Church. He a special member of the Swanton Memorial VFW Post 8598 and a member of Sons of American Legion Post 479 in Swanton. He also was a Mason.

Surviving are his wife, Jennifer Urban, whom he married July 19, 1997; sons Hunter and Maxwell Urban; parents Anna Catherine and Gilbert Urban; brothers James and Jeffrey Urban, and sister Christine McAllister.

Visitation will be 3:30-9 p.m. Monday in the Swanton High School gymnasium, with a vigil service at 8 p.m. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday in St. Richard Church where visitation will begin at 10 a.m.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.