Longtime Berea coach Wierwille dies

The Richmond Register

Coach Roland Wierwille, age 70, widower of Cecilia Craft Wierwille, passed away quietly Saturday morning in the St. Joseph Berea Hospital after a brief illness.

He was born June 26, 1939, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to the late George and Emma Wierwille. Since 1972, the Wierwille family has called Berea, Ky., their home, at which time he assumed the head coaching position at Berea College.

Coach Wierwille, an all-around athlete, played high school basketball, football and golf at Madeira (Ohio) where he was made a member of the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

Coach Wierwille’s career has been marked by significant accomplishments.

These accomplishments were officially recognized when he was inducted into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999. In 1995, he also was inducted into the Hall of Distinguished Alumni at Eastern Kentucky University.

Prior to coming to Berea College, Coach Wierwille was an assistant coach for seven years at Transylvania University under C.M. Newton and Lee Rose.

Since coming to Berea College, he has served on the coaching staffs at the international level, assisting the U.S. Team (Division I) in the World University Games in Japan and the Jones Cup Competition in Taiwan with Lute Olson, formerly of the University of Arizona. While at Berea, he won 464 games and led his team to the Final Four of the NAIA Division II national tournament.

In addition to coaching basketball, he was the director of athletics, golf coach and associate professor. Coach Wierwille conducted his own basketball camp for 27 years on the Berea College campus. Further recognition was given to Coach Wierwille in 1997 in Washington, D.C., when he received a national award from the National Council on Communicative Disorders for his successful comeback after suffering a stroke in November 1994.

Additionally, in 1998, he was honored by the naming of the “Coach Roland Wierwille Locker Room Foyer” and the establishment of the Coach Roland Wierwille Athletic Award. In 2005, he was named to the Mountaineer Men’s Basketball Honor of Distinction.

After his retirement, the coach’s passion for the sport never abated. He was always and continuously interested in his former players, their families, their successes and their futures. He attended many of their basketball games and family events. He found great joy in witnessing and participating in the lives of his grandsons, whatever their sport. To his grandsons, he was affectionately known as Opa.

Coach is survived by his children and six special grandsons: Gretchen (Roger) Osborne and sons Riley and Reese of Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Deborah (Stanley) Spradlin and son, Logan, Courtney (Scott) Buchanan and sons Conner and Hunter Ryan, all of Berea; Roland Cecil (Tammy) Wierwille and son Jackson of Pikeville; one brother Dr. Walter (Barbara) Wierwille of Blacksburg, Va.; one sister Carolyn (Bob) Emrich of Clearwater, Fla; sister-in-law Dr. Cheryl Mae Craft and her son Tyler Craft Cormney of California. Other survivors include numerous cousins, nieces and nephews and his special “girls” Cookie, Nicky and Stripe.

He was preceded ind eath by a brother, Dr. George Wierwille, a sister Mrs. Laura Gescheider and nephew Ryan Berton Craft.

A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday July 25, 2009, at Old Seabury gymnasium on the Berea College campus. There will be a private family burial in Richmond Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice Care Plus, Kidd Drive, Berea, KY 40403 or the Coach Roland Wierwille Athletic Award Scholarship, at Berea College.