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Sandburg pays tribute to athletic director

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Updated: March 19, 2013 6:38AM



Bruce Scheidegger always had an extra minute for anyone, John O’Malley said.

And on Sunday, O’Malley asked about 1,000 people gathered in the Eagle Gym at Sandburg High School to give an extra minute to the late Scheidegger.

Sandburg’s boys cross country coach O’Malley was among 12 speakers at a two-hour memorial service for the high school’s athletic director who was found dead Feb. 10 after a one-vehicle accident near Mount Carroll.

Those in the gym needed little convincing as they rose in unison and gave Scheidegger a rousing one-minute standing ovation.

O’Malley told of the early morning, 4:45 to be exact, when he was surprised to see Scheidegger at Sandburg before the team left for the state meet in Peoria.

“He wanted to make sure the buses were here,” O’Malley said.

Such attention to detail spoke volumes about the man, O’Malley said.

“He made everybody feel like a big deal. He made every sport feel like a marquee event,” O’Malley said.

Speakers talked of his work ethic and dedication, his impressive golf game and the love he shared with his wife, Deb, and their three daughters.

“He was our coach, our colleague, our mentor and our friend,” said Sandburg principal Julia Wheaton, who praised his “strength, leadership and character.”

Wheaton found it fitting that the send-off was held in the gym, the scene of many athletic and academic celebrations, “because we’re here to celebrate Bruce’s life.”

The woman who hired Scheidegger as Sandburg’s athletic director, former principal Debbie Boniface, said he “will always be an Eagle.”

Boniface had the crowd laughing when she recounted how, when she was principal, there was a tray outside her office where staff would place forms that needed her signature. That rule applied to all except a certain AD.

“He’d always be there with a pen and a smile and say there was something for me to sign. If I had any questions, he’d say ‘don’t worry about it’,” she recalled.

Scheidegger came to Sandburg from Sterling High School, where he racked up an impressive resume as coach of the varsity girls’ basketball team and made countless friends.

Jerry Binder, the former principal at Sterling, recalled how Scheidegger planned to the minute their trip to Milwaukee for a golf tournament and ball game.

Binder didn’t dare mess up the plan: “You never wanted the Bruce Scheidegger stare.”

Rich Piatchek, athletic director of Andrew High Schools, fondly recalled his “boring” golf game in which he’d usually shoot in the 70s.

“I’ll miss dialing ext. 3138 and hearing the strong and robust voice at the other end of the line,” Stagg AD Bob Fabrizio added.

Rock Gentry, who coached with Scheidegger in Dixon, said his longtime friend’s favorite movie was “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

“He’d watch that movie over and over again. I gave him a hard time about it. If the time was right, he watched it. His values, family and duty, were exemplified by George Bailey. It reminded him to continue doing the right thing, to keep his eye on the ball and to look at the big picture. He wasn’t perfect. He’d be the first to admit it. That made him more endearing,” Gentry said.

At the end of the ceremony, the school chorus sang “Like an Eagle.”

Afterwards, as visitors enjoyed snacks and more stories, Samantha Adamczyk said her father “would’ve liked this a lot.”

His widow, Deb, called the event “amazing.”

“Bruce loved them and you can tell they loved him back. He really felt part of this community. I think he felt at home here after the second day (on the job),” she said.

A final memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Trinity Lutheran Church, 6850 W. 159th St. Tinley Park.



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