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Darrell Sawyer

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Darrell R. Sawyer 1924-2011 BRATTLEBORO Darrell R. "Squirrel" Sawyer, 87, of Speno Court, a resident of Brattleboro since 1966, died Wednesday morning, December 28, 2011 at his home following a lengthy illness. Fondly referred to as "Coach", he was born in Bennington on Sept. 30, 1924 the son of Darrell R. and Wilhelmina (Neher) Sawyer. He was raised in Bennington, graduating from Bennington High School in 1943. Upon graduation, he served in the U.S. Army Air Forces from 1943-1946. While in the Army, Sawyer was a member of the Amarillo Air Field football and softball teams. Following his discharge from active service, he devoted his life to education and coaching. He graduated from Arnold College, now the University of Bridgeport, Conn., in 1950 where he earned his B.S. in Physical Education and played football and basketball. He continued graduate studies at Sienna College, Boston University and New York University. His first coaching experience was at Bennington where he was head basketball and assistant football coach in 1951. He became head football coach the following year and continued in that position until 1961 when he took the position of freshman football coach at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. for one year. After two seasons in Plymouth, Mass., Sawyer went on to Norwich, Conn. where he joined the football staff and also coached freshman basketball. He came to Brattleboro in 1966. He joined the faculty at Brattleboro Union High School in 1966 and remained on staff until his retirement in 1989. Over this span he coached, taught physical education, driver education, science and performed duties as Director of Athletics. During his career, Sawyer received yearbook dedications, teacher of the year recognition and in 1982 was a recipient of the Al Sowerby Award. In softball at Brattleboro his teams won the Vermont Division 1 State Championship five times and were runner-up on seven occasions. He coached in the inaugural North/South softball tournament in 1987 and was the Vermont Softball Coach of the year in 1989. The softball field at Brattleboro is named Sawyer Field in his honor. While football coach at Brattleboro, his teams won the state title in 1973 and were runners-up in 1979. Over his career the Colonels had a 70 percent winning record. He won the VT Football coach of the Year Award in 1973 and 1978. In 1999 the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame honored Darrell with the Amateur Football Award. After his official retirement from BUHS, Darrell still remained active. He spent time as an assistant football coach at Northfield Mt. Hermon, enjoyed time driving for Vermont Transit and at the Retreat and working at BUHS athletic events. Darrell was twice named the Vermont Shrine Football Coach (1970 and 1981) and served as an assistant on six staffs (1973-77, 1979). Darrell also served as the longtime Director of Athletics for the Vermont Shrine football team. He was honored as an ambassador by the Cairo Temple for his contributions. Darrell was also a highly regarded basketball and softball official for over 30 years. The VT Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association awarded him the Ralph LaPointe Award in 1981. In 2009, Sawyer was elected into the Vermont Principals' Association Hall of Fame for his significant & long-term contributions, accomplishments, high standards, ethical conduct and moral character. Active fraternally, he was a member and Past Exalted Ruler of the Bennington Elk's Lodge, #567. He also held membership in the American Legion, Brattleboro Post #5. Active in his community, Sawyer was involved with youth leagues and groups and served terms on the Brattleboro Recreation and Parks Board. In 2001, he was awarded the Frank H. Dearborn Lifetime Achievement Award for his long-term commitment. He was involved in many other town activities and rarely refused an opportunity to volunteer in any capacity. On April 4th, 1981, town Selectman in Brattleboro decreed "Darrell Sawyer Day". In 2011, Darrell was awarded the President's Volunteer Service Award. Of his pastimes and interests, he enjoyed being outside, interacting with people, playing cards and golf, was a sports enthusiast and an avid New York Yankees and New York Giants fan. He also enjoyed watching any activity his kids or grandkids participated in. He rarely missed anything that his family was a part of and he and was first and foremost a loving father and grandfather. He was previously married to Evelyn "Polly" Provencher who is deceased. On August 29, 1963 in Hinsdale, New Hampshire he was married to Betty Davis, a native of Manchester, Vt., who survives. Besides his faithful and loving wife of 48 years he leaves, three sons, Thomas (and his wife Julie) of Burlington, Jeffrey of New York City, N.Y., and Christopher (and his wife Jennifer) of Brattleboro; one brother, Charles Sawyer of Bennington; a sister, Barbara Butcher, of Florida; and six grandchildren (Darrell, TJ, Jordan, Thaddeus, Maren and Gabriella). Additionally he is survived by many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by one sister, Marjorie Shanahan. A Memorial service in celebration of his life will be conducted Saturday at 12 Noon at Saint Michael's Roman Catholic Church with the very Rev. Richard O'Donnell V.F., pastor, officiating. A reception will follow the services to be held at the Elk's Home on Putney Road. Memorial contributions in his name may be made to Shriner's Hospital, 516 Carew Street, Springfield, MA 01104. To sign an online register book with messages of e-condolence please visit www.atamaniuk.com. Arrangements are under the direction of the ATAMANIUK FUNERAL HOME.

Published in Bennington Banner from Dec. 29 to Dec. 30, 2011
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