Buddy Thomas: Reflecting on the life of Fairhaven great Wayne Wilson By Buddy Thomas firstname.lastname@example.org Posted Jan. 27, 2015 @ 6:26 pm He lost some big games during his 17-year reign as the boys basketball coach at Fairhaven High School. But, somehow, he always seemed to rebound. Unfortunately, Wayne Wilson never got to rebound from the toughest loss of his life. If Wayne ever felt pressure, it rarely showed. Not even prior to the start of that 1963 season when he replaced coaching legend Mel Entin on the Fairhaven bench. Three years later any perceived pressure dissipated when Wayne led Fairhaven to the first of back-to-back Capeway Conference basketball championships on the strength of a 30-game winning streak. A decade later, Wayne guided the 1977-78 Fairhaven team to an Eastern Mass. Div. 2 Championship, falling one win shy of a state title when Springfield Commerce held off his Blue Devils, 67-59. Fairhaven never did win a state championship under his direction, but the toughest loss of Wayne's life would come years later, well into his retirement days when his beloved wife, Joyce, died after a 24-year battle with breast cancer. I don't know how Wayne was handling his latest loss but I'd like to think he would have, in time, eventually rebounded. Unfortunately, he didn't have any time. Sometime Monday, Wayne passed away. Death came quickly, leaving a family devastated and a large circle of friends stunned. From all reports, Wayne was happy in his retirement years in Port Charlotte, Florida. He was active, his family was growing and his wife continued to defy the odds and give strength to anyone who knew her and the history of her long battle with cancer. But those who knew him better than most said Wayne missed coaching. He often talked about those glory days of past when he sat on the bench of Hastings Junior High and helped guide his Fairhaven basketball teams to a series of successful seasons. But those conversations were limited to those who shared the glory. Wayne was a humble man who was always quick to change the route when the direction turned to his own personal achievements. He was proud of the Distinguished Coaches' Award he received is 1980. Just as proud as he was of the Coach of the Year Award he received from the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association two years earlier. But whenever the conversation turned to that 1977-78 season, Wayne only wanted to talk about the "Starting Seven" that brought an EMass championship trophy back to Fairhaven High School. Jim Hennessy, Phil Graves, Gary Furtado, Chuck Tillett, Matt Gamache, Steve Lombardo and Mike Samiao. The names continued to roll off his tongue as quickly and smoothly weeks ago as they did in the last millennium during that still-unforgettable '77-'78 season. A native of Connecticut, Wayne never forget his adopted home of Fairhaven. And, Fairhaven High never forget him. In 1995, he was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame and traveled from his Florida home to attend the ceremony. He and Joyce visited Fairhaven often, usually around the town's Homecoming Weekend in late June, where they spent a handful of days visiting family, friends and reliving the past. A few years ago Wayne came home again” this time to attend the dedication of the high school's gymnasium floor in his name. As usual, Joyce was at his side. Those were just a few of the happier moments in a life sprinkled with tragedy. In 1984 Wayne's 20-year-old son, Craig, was killed in a motorcycle accident. In 1993, his mother, Ruth, passed away. Joyce's death came on Jan. 22, just three days before the couple's 44th anniversary. Somehow, Wayne managed to rebound from the death of his son. He also rebounded from the death of his mother. Unfortunately, we'll never know if he would have rebounded from the passing of his beloved wife. Rest in peace, Wayne. You were the best.