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Monday, July 13, 2020

Sports > General

Bill Graby remembered as close friend, competitive athlete

Oct 24, 2019

By Fred Stabbert III - publisher

Bill Graby
CALLICOON - If you ever met Bill Graby, chances are you would remember it.
At 6 foot 6 inches tall and nearly 300 pounds, “Big Bill” was a formidable figure who loved sports, his family and his Sullivan County roots.
Bill passed away on Tuesday while working upstate. Please see full obituary on page 2B.
Bill will be remembered as a kind-hearted man who possessed a great sense of humor, was always willing to help a neighbor and devoted to his loving family.
He will also be remembered as one of the best linemen to ever put on a uniform in Sullivan County football history.

Long-time Delaware Valley and Sullivan West Coach Ron Bauer said he knew Bill, “Since about seventh grade.
“He was a great athlete on a great team,” Bauer said. “They were undefeated in the WSL (Western Sullivan League) their senior year and also beat the likes of Honesdale and Lakewood [two Pennsylvania powerhouses].”
Bauer said no matter the sport, Bill tried to excel.
“He was strong in basketball and also threw the discus and shot put for me in track,” Bauer remembered. “He won the Sectionals in the discus.”
And if you happened to be on the other side of the ball against Bill, it was also memorable.
Ron Bernhardt of Youngs­ville, who played high school basketball for the rival Jeff-Y Trojans, said, “Bill always came ready to play. We respected the hell out of each other.
“Bill and Koby (Tom Kobylenski) were legend,” Bernhardt said. “Bill would set a pick at the top of the key that could break your neck.
“Tom would run you into Bill and then hit that deadly jumper. You only ran into Bill twice before you tried to find another way around him,” Bernhardt laughed.
And Bernhardt also remembered the gridiron and the entire Delaware Valley front four.
“They averaged 260 lbs. across the front,” Bernhardt said. “They were big dudes, tough dudes - it was crazy.
“All of us have a Billy Graby story,” he said. “It's so sad, he was too young.”
Tom Hubert of Fremont Center remembered winning a championship with Bill in the Liberty Men's Basketball League after high school.
“We had a pretty good team - Bill, Scott Makela, Teb Fink, and my brothers John and Mike,” Hubert said. “We had some pretty good size.
“We spent quite a few days together - and nights,” Hubert said. “He was a gentle giant.”
Bill was also a force to be reckoned with in Tug-O-War, joining the Earl Kinney Tug-O-War team which won many Upper Delaware Canoe Regatta championships.
“We put Bill right in the front,” Kinney said. “He was strong all over - because he worked.”
The late Mickey Roche often told the story of taking Bill with him to the NFL Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Canton, Ohio.
“New York Giants middle linebacker Lawrence Taylor was being inducted,” Roche would muse. “Bill and I went to the Giants party afterwards and when I introduced Bill to all the Giants and he shook their hand, they turned to me and said, “Who is this guy?
“Just a Callicoon farmboy,” Mickey would reply with a laugh.
Jeff-Y Coach Jerry Davitt also knew “Big Bill” well.
“I got to see him at the Callicoon Tractor Parade this year and we got to talk for about 15 minutes,” he said. “It was great to reminisce about old times.
“He was unbelievably (strong),” Davitt said. “I remember our kids bouncing off him. We always got along, but when we got into sports it was just competitive.”
Bill grew up throwing hay bales and milking cows on his father's farm outside Callicoon, growing muscle and endurance.
After high school Bauer said Bill attended Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kansas.
“Their line coach went to Maryland and Bill went with him,” Bauer said. “He played against the likes of Randy White while at Maryland.”
Following his Maryland days, Bill returned home to marry his high school sweetheart, Marie, and raise their family.
The couple had three children, Marissa, Nick and Katrina, who all went on to outstanding sports and college careers at The Pennsylvania State University, Univer­- sity of Connecticut and University of Rhode Island, respectively.
“I give Bill and Marie a lot of credit,” Bauer said. “Their kids all did so well.”
Something which Bill and Marie were always proud of.

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