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Prep Golf: Longtime Chi-Hi coach Silloway remembered for commitment to teaching, caring personality
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Prep Boys Golf | Chi-Hi Cardinals

Prep Golf: Longtime Chi-Hi coach Silloway remembered for commitment to teaching, caring personality

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To know Rick Silloway was to know someone who cared for others.

That was the overarching message from friends and coworkers when talking about Silloway, a longtime Chi-Hi golf coach and teacher who passed away last Friday at the age of 70.

Silloway had coached the Chi-Hi boys golf team since 1990 and led the girls team in its return to varsity competition in 2013 through 2019 before handing over the reigns to Morgan Hanson. Silloway was also a retired elementary school teacher who was the public address announcer at home football and boys basketball games and was active in coaching youth golf.

“He was one of the most likeable guys you could ever come across,” former Chi-Hi golfer and Lake Wissota Golf general manager Cody Peterson said.

Known for his quick wit and light-hearted nature, Silloway was simply a person others wanted to be around.

“His ability to relate to people is really what was such a gift for him,” Chi-Hi athletic director Mike Thompson said. “He obviously did that through teaching and coaching, and he ran summer camps for youth golf.”

Silloway taught fourth grade at Parkview Elementary and used his gift of music to help bond with his students, forging relationships that would last decades after they left his classroom.

“This was a guy that was unbelievably caring and giving to other people,” said friend Ed Watkins, who had known Silloway for three decades.

Former player Alex Nelson remembered Silloway not only for his high spirits and upbeat attitude, but also for his morals and ethics while teaching the 2019 Chi-Hi graduate many valuable lessons on the golf course, including the importance of patience. And while he was always quick to crack a joke, Nelson said Silloway was also serious about the task at hand and could have the serious conversations.

Silloway took over the Chi-Hi boys golf program in 1990 from Swede Swenson and led it until his passing.

“Golf is kind of one of those individual sports, but he had a knack for making a team out of it,” Thompson said of Silloway. “That’s not easy to do in some of those individual sports, but that’s just the way he was. I think that’s the way he was in the classroom when he connected with people.”

He led the team to a Division 1 state tournament berth in 2008, the first for the program since 1968.

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Peterson golfed for Silloway for the Cardinals from 2002-05 and kept in close contact with Silloway after going on to golf collegiately at UW-Eau Claire. Peterson lost his father to an accident when he was playing for the Cardinals and credited Silloway for his support and said he was a mentor to many, including himself.

“He cared more about everybody else around him than himself, and that really came out every time you talked to him,” Peterson said. “It was so natural to get into deep conversations, and you just couldn’t help but like the guy. He was very knowledgeable about golf and even this last summer he’d still play a few times a week so we got to chatting all the time. I really miss him already. He was a great man.”

Silloway was also a cancer survivor, battling Stage 4 lymphoma from his diagnosis in October 2002 until being cancer free in April 2003.

“He spent a lot of time doing things he really wanted to do,” Thompson said. “That’s important for people to understand. He enjoyed doing the announcing for football and basketball and he enjoyed coaching kids in golf. He obviously transitioned out of the teaching career, but he stayed connected in ways that he really wanted to.”

When he wasn’t on the golf course, Silloway would spend his fall Fridays in the press box at Dorais Field and many of his winter weeknights at the scorer’s table as the announcer for the football and boys basketball teams, respectively. Watkins was a longtime assistant coach for the football team and said Silloway’s voice was one of the things that helped make Friday nights at Dorais special. After retiring from coaching, Watkins helped Silloway as a spotter in the press box during games and said Silloway was “spectacular” when it came to calling games and seeing things quickly.

“He had a lot of friends and a lot of family, and I think whatever way we choose to honor him will be difficult, but appropriate,” Thompson said of Silloway.

But there was much more to Silloway than just golf. Silloway loved his wife, Jan, and daughter Taylor, as well as boating and music.

Peterson called Silloway a “very, very special man” and someone that was taken away too soon.

“His legacy will be his impact on everyone he came into contact with,” Peterson said. “The stories that I’ve been seeing on social media and those reaching out to me about those who have been around him for 25-30 years or those that had him as a teacher or a coach, they always had good things to say about him and at some point in time he made an impact on them enough to the point where after they were done with school they’d keep in contact and he would still keep in contact with them. It just shows the kind of man he was.

“He always cared about every one of his students, and I’m sure he didn’t probably remember everyone but he sure made an attempt to stay in contact and I think that’s what he’s going to be remembered for.”

“He was one of the most likeable guys you could ever come across.” Cody Peterson, Former Chi-Hi golfer and

Lake Wissota Golf general manager

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