Bill Farrell: ‘Architect of the R-H Sports Program’

  • The late Bill Farrell helped develop Rush-Henrietta into a perennial sports powerhouse. Hired as the district’s first full-time physical education teacher in 1951, his contributions are still felt today.

    In the 1950s, Farrell coached an incredible assortment of sports, including baseball, basketball, gymnastics, wrestling, soccer, and track. Wanting to expand athletic opportunities for children, he founded the Rush-Henrietta Athletic Association in 1954. The RHAA complex on West Henrietta Road is named for Farrell in recognition of his efforts to promote youth baseball.

    Appointed as the district's athletic director in 1960, Farrell was responsible for assembling an incredible collection of talented coaches that helped propel Rush-Henrietta to sporting success. Those hires included Bill Cowden, Jim Cox, Jerry Everling, Gordon Gilfilian, Werner Kleemann, Paul McKee, Gene Monje, Rick Page, Jack Smith, Paula Summit, and Dick Young.

    In 1968, Farrell became the district's personnel director and later served as assistant superintendent. One day, based on word of mouth, he contacted Page out of the blue to ask if he was interested in teaching physical education in the growing district. Page drove directly from Massachusetts to Henrietta to have an interview and Farrell hired him on the spot. It proved to be a wise decision. Page spent the remainder of his decades-long career as a Rush-Henrietta coach, teacher, and administrator. He remembers how influential Farrell was in putting district athletics on the map. “Bill was the architect of the R-H sports program,” Page says.

    Gary Junge, a 1966 Rush-Henrietta graduate, worked as a summer counselor under Farrell as a teenager. “He was always good to the athletes,” Junge says. “People respected him. He was always around to talk to if you needed someone, and he was interested in what athletes were doing off the field, too.”
    Farrell, who served in the United States Marine Corps in the 1940s, had a big impact on our region and state. He was chair of Section V basketball for many years and largely responsible for creating the high school state basketball tournament. He also supported the Rochester LPGA. The local golf scene was one of his many passions.

    When Farrell died in 2003, Kleemann honored the person who hired him, telling the Democrat and Chronicle: “He was an uncomplicated man. He didn’t have a lot of rules. He just expected you to do certain things and you wanted to do them.”

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