Greeno remembered as ‘one of a kind’“One of a kind” was the familiar refrain among family, friends and former athletes of legendary Jamestown College coach Rollie Greeno on Wednesday. Greeno, who spent 37 years coaching and teaching at the school, died on Tuesday night at MeritCare Palliative Care Unit in Fargo. He was 83.
“One of a kind” was the familiar refrain among family, friends and former athletes of legendary Jamestown College coach Rollie Greeno on Wednesday.
Greeno, who spent 37 years coaching and teaching at the school, died on Tuesday night at MeritCare Palliative Care Unit in Fargo. He was 83.
The 2006 N.D. Sports Hall of Fame in-ductee suffered a series of strokes on March 31 and was taken to Fargo that day.
“Penn State has JoePa, we had Rollie,” said Lisbon High School athletic director Joe Howell, one of many Greeno disciples who went onto distinguished coaching careers. “We lost our legend, but what a life he had.”
The funeral is set for Saturday at 2 p.m., and the location — the Jamestown Civic Center — speaks to the imprint his life left.
The South Dakota native spent 52 years as a teacher and coach, the last 37 at Jamestown College, where he amassed an amazing 83 conference championships.
But to those who knew him best, the accolades, honors and awards were only half the story.
“He liked people. He liked to see people succeed and that went well beyond what they did on the football field, or the track or anything like that,” said his eldest son, Rollie Greeno Jr. “My brother (Greg) and I had a unique perspective growing up. We played for him, and he was our coach, but he was our Dad first and foremost.
“Playing for him was probably the most memorable experience of my life.”
Greeno coached football, track and field, cross country and wrestling at Jamestown College, and with the way the seasons overlapped, often was coaching more than one sport at a time.
Jim Clark, who has coached the Jamestown College women’s track and field and cross country teams since 1978, always marveled about Greeno’s ability to juggle it all.
“To this day I’m not sure how he managed everything, but he always seemed to find a way,” said Clark. “He had his way of doing things and he was able to make it work.”
Greeno was legendary for his long hours and for the cot he had set up in his office if the day’s work ran too long. Many of his former athletes said he led by example.
“He was demanding. He had high expectations for you, and not just in terms of athletics, either. He wanted you to succeed in life,” said Jim Haussler, activities director for Bismarck Public Schools. “He’s a legend, an absolute legend. He earned statewide, regional and national recognition and he earned everything. He hasn’t died either. The impact and the influence he had on people’s lives will last forever.”
He is survived by his wife, Mae, four children — Rollie Jr., Greg, Trudi and Gretchen — and nine grandchildren.
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org