By Cliff Stewart
The morning of, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, at 7:30 a.m., I telephoned Kathy, Mr. Tom Winterbottom’s lovely daughter and the only of his children born in Beacon, telling her that I was heading out from New York City to come see her dad. This is when I would learn of his passing, with Kathy telling me he’d passed on Sunday, May 4, at 9:35 a.m., leaving behind his wonderful wife, his five children, and four grandchildren- to carry on in memory of him. On behalf of our 1963-64 basketball team, I sent condolence to the entire family.
Mr. Winterbottom was a very special and unique human being. Our generation in Beacon, New York, would come to know him as our basketball coach in the year 1963. Our team had been playing mere mediocre games, winning some, losing others-leaving no distinct seasons in our history-until of course Mr. Winterbottom would take the helm to our basketball team-leading us to 38 straight victories before losing a game.
He would work the basketball team plenty hard from the beginning of practice to the very ending-following through with a lecture on the key to winning: team ship. This proved to be so remarkably true-a lesson that we would use throughout our lives.
Though extremely fair, caring, and sensitive; he was protective of his team. He would defend us when necessary without the blinking of his eyes. He was also as tough as nails when we needed to be lectured and reprimanded.
That Mr. Winterbottom was a genius as a basketball coach. Its not only etched in his magnificent history coaching the Beacon Bulldogs to a two-year undefeated season. Its also evident by those inspiring coaches he would mentor. Two of whom were born and raised in Beacon. Mr. Dick Phelps and Mr. Dick DiBiaso would both rise to national prominence coaching at distinguished collegiate institutions in the nation.
Before the accelerated decline in Mr. Winterbottom’s health, I had my last conversation with him. We had a brief discussion on the state of the nation, the House of Representatives, and Barack Obama’s Presidency.
Mr Winterbottom was indeed more than just an exceptional basketball coach; he was a teacher and more so, a citizen. He ran the race of life and crossed the finish line. He did so, with grace, dignity, and respect; this makes him truly an extraordinary man. Mr. Winterbottom shall now be left to rest in peace.
Curt Stewart and the 1963-64 Beacon Basketball Team.