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Harry Conway Forrester

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Harry Conway Forrester, 85, of Champaign, a former head basketball and baseball coach and athletic director at Quincy College, died Wednesday (July 16, 2008). Mr. Forrester was born Aug. 19, 1922, in Raymond, a son of Harry Dean and Mary Josephine Conway Forrester. He married his high school sweetheart, Alma Rose Grundy, Aug. 14, 1945, in Morrisonville. She survives. Mr. Forrester served in the Navy during World War II as a machinist on the USS Kennebago in the Pacific Theater during the Philippines liberation. He received the American Pacific Theater of War Ribbon, American Theater of War Ribbon, and Letter of Commendation upon his honorable discharge from the Navy in September, 1945. He received his B.S. degree from Millikin University in 1949, and his masters in education degree from Eastern Illinois University in 1959. He began his career in Effingham as St. Anthony High School's first full-time basketball coach from 1949-54 compiling a 21-7 record in his first year and a 95-43 record during his five years there. His team won the school's first National Trail Conference Championship in 1952-53. He was head basketball and baseball coach and athletic director at Quincy College (now Quincy University) from 1954-57. During his first year in Quincy, his basketball team earned a berth in the quarterfinals of the NAIA national tournament (now known as the NCAA tournament) in Kansas City, which was Quincy College's first athletic team to qualify for a national competition. That team's 17-9 season was the best record in the school's history at the time. He was a teacher and coach at Tuscola High School, principal at Pesotum Grade School, and a physical education teacher in Champaign Community Unit 4 schools. Mr. Forrester was honored as Catholic Coach of the Year during the 1956-57 season. In 1982, he was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. As a football and basketball referee for several years, highlights included officiating the IHSA boys basketball tournament when it was held at the University of Illinois' Assembly Hall during the final game of the one-class state tournament and the first game of the two-class state tournament. In 1989, he received recognition by the Illini Basketball Officials Association for his outstanding achievement in basketball officiating as a high school and college basketball referee. In 2005, he was inducted in Quincy University's Hall of Fame for his contribution to sports. He served as a hospice volunteer at Mercy Hospital (now Provena Covenant), and he was a member of the St. Vincent DePaul Society. He was a Knight of Columbus, Fourth Degree, of the Champaign-Urbana Council 891, and an active member of St. Matthew Catholic Church in Champaign. He and his wife, Rose, shared a love of good music and dancing, and were the first ones on the dance floor to kick up their heels when the band started. Well into his 70s, Mr. Forrester continued his love of sports by playing softball in the Champaign Park District's Golden Gloves softball league, and retired as the oldest player in the league. He also greatly enjoyed attending his grandchildren's sports events and school activities. He is also survived by five children, Gary D. (Keziah) Forrester of New Zealand, Nancy J. (Gordon) Braun of Blue Springs, Mo., Rita C. (Danny) Grider of Champaign, James C. (Toni) Forrester of Decatur, and Rose Anne (Bill) Oberheide of Park Ridge. He is also survived by 16 grandchildren; three great-grandchildren, and his brother, Joseph Forrester of Saline, Mich. He was preceded in death by his parents, and his sister, Jeanne Wietekamp Horsthemke. SERVICES: 7 p.m. Monday at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Effingham with the Rev. Ben Meyer, a former student coached by Mr. Forrester, conducting. MEMORIALS: In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Anthony Catholic Church, 412 N. 3rd, Effingham, IL 62401; St. Vincent De Paul Society, in care of Holy Cross Church, 405 W. Clark, Champaign, IL 61820, or Quincy University Athletics in memory of Coach Harry C. Forrester, 1800 College Ave., Quincy, IL 62301-2699. ARRANGEMENTS: Morgan Memorial Home, 1304 Regency Drive, Savoy, IL 61874. Condolences may be expressed online at www.whig.com.

Published in Quincy Herald-Whig from July 18 to July 20, 2008
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