William Michael Paige, Sr., age 78, of Merrillville, IN, passed away on Tuesday, September 14, 2021. A longtime educator and administrator, Bill was a lifelong resident of Northwest Indiana.
Bill is survived by his longtime partner, Susan Greenberg; two sons: Bill Jr. (Sharon) and Richard (Lydia); two grandchildren: Jake and Cora; two brothers: Tim (Wendy) and John (Harriet Bertsche); and four nieces and nephews.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents; brothers: Dick and Ronny; and sister, Sandra Langley.
Bill was born on September 7, 1943 in Gary, IN, the fourth of six children (five boys and a girl) to Edward V. and Alexandria "Stella" Paige. He grew up in the Tolleston neighborhood of Gary. After graduating from Tolleston High School in 1961, Bill attended Indiana University, where he planned to teach and coach. He graduated from IU in 1965 with a bachelor's degree in physical education, and then went on to earn his master's degree in 1968.
Bill returned to the area and got his first teaching positions in Northwest Indiana at Wirt High School and Ernie Pyle Elementary School beginning in 1966. Two years later "Coach Paige" became the P.E. Teacher at Tolleston High School; beginning what would be 40 consecutive years at the school. In that tenure, he served as a teacher, coach and athletic director. He taught and coached many generations of Gary students. Bill served as an assistant coach on Jim Dailey's legendary 1969 Blue Raider Boys Basketball Team that finished runner-up in the IHSAA State Tournament with a 28-2 record.
Aside from teaching, coaching was one of many side jobs Bill held in a colorful lifetime. While in school he worked on the painting crew of the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway (EJ&E); taught driver's education in the Gary School; managed Wells Street Beach in Miller, ran the pool at the Gary Country Club, and along with his brother, John, and a third partner, owned and operated Jean's Place, a neighborhood bar in Chicago, for 14 years.
He hosted notorious parties in his basement bar, took pride in grilling, roasting Thanksgiving turkeys, and preparing his famous beef stroganoff; captured and shared thousands of photos with friends and family; never turned down the opportunity to visit New Orleans (especially if it meant attending Jazz Fest); regaled his grandchildren with stories of the trips he earned across America as a paperboy; and was proud to raise his family next door to his best friend, Thomas "Tiny" Hirchak.
A lifelong sports fan, Bill took particular pleasure in introducing his sons to the joys and pitfalls of both Chicago (especially the Cubs) and IU sports. He attended 39 NCAA Final Fours in his lifetime and was a founding member of Cal Sag University. Bill was also a dedicated jogger, missing few days over nearly 50 years of running.
Friends may visit with the family on Sunday, September 19, 2021 at Geisen-Pruzin Funeral Service, Pruzin Brother's Chapel, 6360 Broadway Ave., Merrillville, IN 46410 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. A Celebration of Bill's Life will begin at 1:30 PM.
To share a memory or leave a condolence, go to the Geisen-Pruzin Chapel website at www.GeisenFuneralHome.com
Published by Post-Tribune from Sep. 17 to Sep. 19, 2021.