Former WHS coach, AD passes away

The community was reflective upon the passing of retired longtime Bulldogs coach and athletic director Rick Keefe last week.

Keefe, 72, died Dec. 23 following a lengthy battle with progressive supranuclear palsy. His full obituary appears on page 3A of this weekโ€™s paper. 

Keefe, a member of the WHS Athletic Hall of Fame, retired in 2010 after 33 years at WHS. Previously, he taught and coached at Althoff for one year and at St. Henry Prep Seminary in Belleville for four years.

Keefe coached softball, boys basketball and boys soccer for the Bulldogs and was athletic director for 15 years.

He was WHS softball coach from 1986-1992, winning five regional titles. His 1989 squad advanced to the state tournament. 

He was also head coach of the 1981 WHS boys basketball squad that lost to Freeburg in the regional final. 

โ€œWe are very saddened to hear that longtime coach and athletic director Rick Keefe passed away,โ€ Waterloo Athletic Director Brian Unger said. โ€œThe athletic department sends its condolences to the Keefe family. Rick influenced many lives and was a wonderful person. He will be missed.โ€

Longtime Columbia Middle School boys basketball coach Jon Wehrenberg, who played for Keefe as a student in Waterloo, also shared kind words about his mentor.

โ€œHe taught me so much more than sports,โ€ Wehrenberg reflected. โ€œHe taught me how to do things the right way. I carried that with me through my entire coaching career and hopefully passed some of his lessons on to my boys. The greatest joy of coaching is the relationships with your players. I hope I brought as much joy to Rick Keefe as these boys bring to me. God bless you Coach and thanks for more than words can ever express.โ€

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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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