Bob Stead, known universally as ‘Coach’ around Cape Cod and everywhere he went, passed away Monday evening at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston due to complications from injuries after a terrible fall. He was 72. He is survived by his lovely and younger looking wife of 39 years Connie-“She was my best friend and I thank God for her love every day of my life”; two amazing sons-Doug and Kyle-and his daughter Amy, also amazing and the smartest of the bunch; and brothers Bert and John. He is also survived by two beautiful daughters-in-law; Michelle Russo Stead of Parkton, MD and Cammie Gainey Stead of S. Dennis, Ma; 1 sister in law, 2 brothers-in-law, a niece and nephew and his 92 year old mother-in-law in Florida; 4 adoring grandkids from age 5-14 who already miss Grandpa, the only other name he liked better than Coach.
Bob was born in Brooklyn NY and despite that was a Yankee fan, not a Dodger fan. He grew up on Long Island until his family moved to Dennisport at the age of 13. One of his most proud accomplishments was winning back to back Cape Cod Foul Shooting Championship in 1963-1964. “Little old ladies from Provincetown would throw pennies at me and at the floor to distract me,” he used to say. After keeping those pennies for beer money, Bob attended UMass (where he befriended future Mass Maritime legend Bob Corradi) and graduated from Doane (Neb) College. Where there was lots of corn and of course, he made many lifetime friends.
He had three job offers out of college: Crete Carrier as a truck dispatcher for 16k a year; Nebraska State Police for 24k a year; or coaching and teaching at the Pike School in Andover, MA for 4k a year. Bob wanted to coach so back east he came. He later joined the staff at DY in 1973 and served as assistant football coach, JV boys basketball coach, assistant and head baseball coach under legendary coach Merrill ‘Red’ Wilson, who also was Godfather to his son Doug, and head volleyball coach. However, he was most proud of his time at the helm of Lady Dolphin basketball.
‘He was one of the first coaches to treat girls as athletes, not ‘just’ girl athletes, who could push the ball up the floor, rebound, shoot and play defense,’ said Championship Basketball Camp Director Leo Terrell. ‘He wanted practices to be tough so games would be easier. Him yelling “Push it” echoed across many gyms on Cape Cod!’ In the 1980’s and 1990’s he led the Lady Dolphins to levels of unprecedented success and is still the all-time winningest basketball coach in DY history.
“He was the best. He felt losses and wins like no other. We could literally feel his joy in wins and frustration in losses-it was the little things that mattered the most. We still talk about him when we get together!”, said Polly Bates, DY Class of 1989 and Globe All-Scholastic Volleyball 1988 who played both volleyball and basketball under Coach Stead.
Thousands of kids got to meet Coach through the ranks at DY from 1973-2013 (He served as varsity pitching coach for several years after his retirement from teaching/ guidance counselor, with special care for kids from Dennisport) and thousands more through Championship basketball camp at Mass Maritime during the summer. He also became an Admiral in the Nebraska Navy in 2013, and proudly displayed the certificate signed by the Governor of Nebraska.
He also coached the Yarmouth Dennis Red Sox and the Bourne Braves and served as Cape Cod Baseball League Commissioner from 1999-2003; he was also an amateur scout for the Yankees and then later the Mets. Bob would spend the winters in Florida and loved attending Mets Spring Training games in Port St. Lucie as he would flash his old Scout card for free parking. “It was a great ride, but there are no more tickets for sale.”
Visiting hours will be held on Saturday October 12th from 1 – 4 PM at the Morris, O’Connor & Blute Funeral Home, 58 Long Pond Drive, South Yarmouth. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to Dennis – Yarmouth Athletics, Attention Paul Funk, 210 Station Avenue, South Yarmouth, MA 02664.