Beloved BSD wrestling coach and teacher dies after suffering stroke last week

by Josh Magill

After complications from a stroke, Paul Greeley died last Wednesday surrounded by his family, including his three daughters and his son.  The former wrestling coach at Bethel, Peninsula and Spanaway Lake high schools suffered the stroke on Sunday, Nov 18, and was transported to the intensive care unit at Tacoma General Hospital, but was unable to overcome the effects of the stroke.

“Paul has had a profound influence on the wrestling community here in WA,” wrote Graham-Kapowsin wrestling coach Scott Stirts on a Washington Wrestling Message Board.  “More importantly he had a huge influence in the lives of many coaches, wrestlers of all abilities, and students in his 32 years if coaching and teaching.”

In 2005, the same year he retired from coaching, Greeley was inducted into the Washington State Wrestling Coaches Association (WSWCA) Hall of Fame.  That bio shares the following:

Greeley wrestled at Puyallup High School under Hall of Famer Ray Barnes, and served in the United States Army.  Following his service in the military, he attended the University of Puget Sound. He would later earn his Master’s degree from Gonzaga University.

Greeley started his wrestling coaching career as an assistant at Peninsula HS and took over the program at Bethel HS in 1977.  His teams were always competitive in the South Puget Sound League and captured four SPSL titles.  His Bethel teams finished in the top six in state three times including a runner-up finish in 1987.  In 1998 Greeley moved across town to Spanaway Lake HS and led the Sentinels to three consecutive top four finishes including the school’s first state title in 2001 and a runner-up finish in 2003.  His overall dual meet record at both schools is 227-90-3, a winning percentage over 70%.

Greeley has been named SPSL Coach of the Year six times, Regional Coach of the Year four times, and was selected as the “AAA” State Coach of the Year in 1987.  Paul coached 37 state placers including ten state champions.  Greeley retired from coaching in 2005.

Greeley’s daughter, Kristin Lynn, also shared some thoughts on the Washington Wrestling Message Board: “My Dad would be humbled and honored by all of the people who cared about him.  He loved wrestling and being a coach more than anything.  Knowing how many lives he has touched makes me proud to have had him as my Dad.”

The Bethel School District, where Greeley was a teacher for many years, shared their condolences in a press release:  “Our condolences go out to the Greeley family. He will be greatly missed as evidenced by the prolific posts on the Bethel School District Memorial Facebook page.”

Two comments from the BSD Memorial Facebook page seemed to sum up the general thoughts about the beloved coach and teacher.

“Few people touch my life like Coach Greeley,” wrote Darin Borden.  “He was more a teacher than a coach.  So many of the important points I rest my life on came from his tutelage.”

“He was a great teacher, always had something to say to put you back on track,” wrote Katy Dias-Knebel.  “You will be greatly missed.  Your laugh and smile brightened our lives and made our days fun as you taught us how learning wasn’t always dull and boring, but fun.  Thanks for the life lessons.”

A memorial service for Greeley will be held this Sunday, Dec. 2, at 2 p.m. in the Bethel High School Gymnasium.

A Paul Greeley Memorial Scholarship has also been set up to give donations in lieu of flowers.  Donations can be made to the BEST Scholarship Fund in Greeley’s name toward funding the scholarship.  A tax deductible receipt will be provided. 

The scholarship will be used to award wrestlers continuing their education and wrestling careers after high school.  Checks should be made payable to the BEST Scholarship Fund and put “Paul Greeley Memorial Scholarship” in the memo line. 

BEST (Bethel Education Scholarship Team)
P.O Box 742
Graham, WA 98338

Credit card payments can also be made by calling Peg Griewe at (360) 832-2451 or checks can be dropped off at the Bethel School District office (c/o Dodie Raden).

©  2012  Josh Magill

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