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Nov-09-2006 20:59TweetFollow @OregonNews
Coach Dewey Sullivan Has Left The FieldBonnie King, Salem-News.com
Dewey Sullivan was one of the 10 Winningest active coaches in the nation and among the Top-20 All-Time!
(DAYTON, Ore.) - To the dismay of Pirates everywhere, Dewey Sullivan, the winningest football coach in Oregon prep history, died at 4:30 Wednesday morning in McMinnville.
Dayton High School's coach for 42 years, 71-year old Sullivan was struggling to recover from a September surgery, and had been fighting a losing battle with pneumonia and infection ever since.
Finally, in typical Sullivan fashion, he called the play, and his family cooperated, removing him from life support on Sunday.
25 miles from Salem, Dayton has a long reputation of tenacity, strength and drive, of it's deep rooted spirit. Dewey Sullivan encompassed those same qualities, and Daytonians counted on that.
The town was not ready to let go of Coach Sullivan, but he knew when the game was through. With the same humble bravado he showed for decades on the field, he called it. Sullivan was born in Oklahoma, and in 1965 moved to Dayton to become a teacher and football coach where he quickly became rooted in the community. Some called him a giant in the small town, so well-known in football circles for his winning record.
And he had a way about him, a "you're here for a reason, so get it right" attitude. He mentored and guided innumerable students, on the field and in the classroom, he raised the bar at will and made his expectations known. Students worked to gain Mr. Sullivan's respect, and it was rewarded mutually.
His team. The Pirates have always been Dewey Sullivan's team. During his career, Sullivan amassed a career record of 352-84-2 and won five state championships, even winning two games before being hospitalized this season.
Without Sullivan, the team lost two games, but bounced back to win the Class 3A West Valley League title, going undefeated in league play.
And the (pep) band plays on.
This Saturday the Pirates make their 25th straight playoff appearance when they host Grant Union at 1:00 PM in the opening round of this year's Class 3A state playoffs under interim coach Rob Umbenhower.
The school song, "Cheer Cheer for ole DHS" will be echoing through the stadium while the team roars onto the field, ready to take on another contender. The excitement of the state playoffs will only be rivaled by the challenge to make Dewey proud.
But I think he already is. I am one of the many alumni that sat in the chairs in Mr. Sullivan's biology class so many years ago. We were all "his team" in a way, and our lives are better for knowing him. He was, after all, one of the good guys. And if you want to argue that fact, I'm sure he'll pull out some films for us all to go over together.
Dewey Sullivan is survived by his wife Vera Sullivan and four children. A memorial service is scheduled for Monday at 1:30 PM at the McMinnville community center.
Thanks for the memories Mr. Sullivan.
Please feel free to leave your comments, condolences and anecdotes below.
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