Dick Williams, popular Wayzata youth basketball coach

  • Article by: TIM HARLOW , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 26, 2009 - 8:00 PM

The Realtor stressed loyalty and self-confidence when he coached traveling teams. He never cut kids.

For more than 30 years, Dick Williams taught teenagers in the Wayzata School District how to shoot free throws and make jump shots. He also taught them self-confidence, loyalty and lessons on how to succeed in life.

Williams started traveling basketball teams for ninth-graders in the early 1970s when community basketball was just getting off the ground. No matter how many boys tried out, he never cut anybody and sometimes started a second team so everybody could play. Williams' father had a no-cut policy when he was a basketball coach in the 1930s, and Dick Williams made sure that was part of his playbook, too, said his sister, Mary Kay Mathiasen, of Alexandria, Minn.

"He knew that was a tough age for kids and he felt, like his father, that they should be on the team," she said. "He was good at coaching, but that was not the primary thing. He was always encouraging and got self-confidence into the kids."

Williams, 62, died of a blood clot in his heart March 18 at his home in Plymouth.

Williams was named the 1975 Trojan of the Year for his outstanding service to the Wayzata School District's athletic programs, which even included resodding the junior high baseball field.

"He was a silent hero," said Gordy Engel, who helped Williams start traveling teams through the Wayzata Youth Basketball Association. "The impact he had on young men was incredible."

Williams often opened his home up for kids who needed a place to go. Steve Meade, a physician at Edina Family Physicians, said Williams was like a father to him and helped him get through school.

Williams is remembered for going the extra mile. He got teams jerseys with the players' names on them, provided players with a yearbook featuring statistics and photos, and put on an end-of-the-year banquet with a slide show set to music, said former player Greg Myers.

Williams even helped some players get started in a career. He brought Nate Woodbury on to join him as a partner in his real estate business.

"Dick was an incredible, loyal man to company, family, friends and clients," Woodbury said. "Everything he taught and preached was loyalty, and I will carry that on."

Williams was born in Washington, D.C. His father was an FBI agent who was assigned to Minnesota in the late 1950s. Williams played basketball at Wayzata High School and graduated with a degree in business from the University of Minnesota.

Williams was named one of the Outstanding Young Men of America in 1978 by the national group Outstanding Americans.

He also enjoyed spending time at his lake cabin near Alexandria and his second home in Arizona, his sister said.

In addition to his sister Mary Kay Mathiasen, Williams is survived by a brother, Bill Williams of Plymouth, and a stepsister, Susan Falk of New Jersey.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. today at Wayzata Community Church, 125 E. Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata.

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