Posts Tagged ‘Ed Thomas’

Those that died before their time

June 25, 2009

Bill Quinby remembers his shock and sadness when he heard about the death of Nile Kinnick.

“We didn’t have TV then. I remember (former Gazette sports editor) Tait Cummins wrote a very warm summary after his death,” said Quinby, 77, a former NFL official who returned to Cedar Rapids after his retirement.

“It was pretty sad then. And this is very, very sad now.”

Quinby was refering to Wednesday’s death of Ed Thomas, the Aplington-Parkersburg football coach that was shot to death at the school’s weight room.

Mark Becker of Parkersburg was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

Kinnick was the 1939 Heisman Trophy winner at the University of Iowa, who died as a Naval officer in 1943 when he was forced to ditch his plane that had developed an oil leak off the coast of Venezuela.

Cummins wrote: “Kinnick proved one thing, that college athletics could be beautiful. Everything that can be said that is good about college athletics he was. He didn’t represent it…he was it.”

Kinnick was the most famous Iowan involved in athletics to die before their time. Thomas was the most recent. Here’s a partial list of those who passed prematurely:

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Threats of violence to coaches are rare, but …

June 24, 2009

High school sports are full of excitement and emotion.

An excess of either can lead to very bad things, said Jim Bellamy, retired football coach at Mount Vernon High School.

“Let’s just say that things like this can happen. People get excited and emotional. You hope it (subsides and) goes away.”

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“Sad, shocking, senseless”

June 24, 2009
Residence react to the shooting of Aplington-Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas on Wednesday. (Photo by Jim Slosiarek)

Residence react to the shooting of Aplington-Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas on Wednesday. (Photo by Jim Slosiarek)

Last May, Ed Thomas lost his home.

Wednesday, he lost his life.

But Thomas’ legacy won’t be that of a victim, according to Tom Stone.

“He had ‘WINNER’ written all over him,” said Stone, veteran football coach at Pekin High School. “He touched so many lives. He brought out the best in so many people. He had a real knack in getting along with kids.”

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Ed Thomas shooting reaction

June 24, 2009

JIM BELLAMY, former Mount Vernon H.S. football coach

“It’s a sorry time for the state of Iowa as a whole, to lose a fine person like that.”

“He was a class act, from all of my observations. It’s hard to believe that something like this could happen. His program, his demeanor … what a class act.”

“He was involved with so many activities. He was a strong supporter of the community. It’s unbelievable.”

“You deal with the youth of today, and you have to deal with parents. You never know how far people are going to take things.”

“Let’s just say that things like this can happen. People get excited and emotional. You just hope it goes away.”

PAUL JAMES, Cedar Rapids Washington AD and former football coach

“He was so revered in his community. It just leaves me speechless. I have no idea what could have triggered a thing like that.”

BUD LEGG, IHSAA information director

“I’m just stunned. Any tragedy is shocking, but one so senseless as the nature of this … I’m just stunned.”

“It doesn’t make any sense. Anybody that knows Ed knows what a terrific guy he (was). He’s so dedicated to the kids. If you’re going to pick an ideal person to coach your son, your daughter, your grandchild, it’s Ed Thomas.”

“Not very many coaches feel threatened. Their motivation is to help kids achieve their goals.”

DUANE SCHULTE, Cedar Rapids Xavier football coach

“I really didn’t know him at all. We might have said hello to each other at a clinic sometime.”

“It’s unbelievable. I’m in total shock. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

“I felt terrible about what happened at Parkersburg (with the tornado) last year. This is even worse.”

TONY LOMBARDI, Cedar Rapids Washington football coach

“Oh my gosh, what a shame. It’s inexplicable.”

“Here’s the thing. We live in a time in which there are so few heroes. That man is a genuine hero. I’m sure he had opportunities to go to a bigger school, a bigger community. He pulled the entire community behind his program.”

“What a sad commentary. We need to hold these people in high esteem.”

“It’s just sad beyond belief. He brought so many people so many wonderful things. This man made a difference.”

“I’ve really never felt unsafe. I’ve had some really upset parents.”

TOM STONE, football coach at Pekin High School

“It’s a sad day for a great man, and it’s a sad day for life in general.”

“He touched so many lives. He brought out the best in so many people. He had a real knack in getting along with kids.”

“He had ‘Winner’ written all over him.”

“The frightening thing is that it could happen to any of us. But of all of us, he’d be the last person you’d think it would happen to.”

“It’s been a very difficult morning for me.”

KEN WINKLER, football coach at West Marshall High School and a close friend of Thomas’

“Shock is the only word to use.”

“He is a great person who also happens to be a great football coach.”

“The thing about his teams was they were so fundamentally sound. He coached their offensive line, and their offensive line was so good.”

“It’s a loss to a lot of people. Football was third to him. He had a very strong faith, and he was a very good family man.”

CHUCK GRASSLEY, U.S. Senator

“This is a tragic day. In our area of the state, it’s hard not to know Coach Thomas. He was a pillarte of the community. His success on the football field made him an icon in his profession, but the people who knew him will remember him most for his leadership off the field. His leadership to help pull up a commuinity knocked off its feet by an F-5 tornado only a year ago will forever be etched in the minds of Parkersburg residents and Iowans across the state.”

RICK WULKOW, IHSAA executive director

“Like all tragedies, the taking of Coach Thomas’ life is senseless. At this time our thoughts and prayers are with his family and the Aplington-Parkersburg community and the thousands of lives he so positively impacted. He embodied the essence of what a coach should be, and that legacy will endure.”

“He will be forever remembered not so much for his many wins on the field, but for the exemplary manner in which he coached kids and led the Aplington-Parkersburg community and school. This was especially true last spring and summer as they rebuilt from a devastating tornado. He was overwhelmed with the ensuing gratitude from the efforts of the Iowa coaching community and others during the rebuilding.”

MARK FARLEY, UNI football coach

“The hard part is this is a great man, not just a great coach, a great man.”

“You can’t find a coach in the state he hasn’t had an impact on.”

“He just represented everything that was good about coaching, good about representing kids.”