Teaching, Coaching Legend Passes

Nick Johnson, Staff Writer

Former track and freshman football coach, physical education teacher, and 15 year athletic director Bob Wilson passed away Wednesday morning, December 17, after a long battle with cancer. He was 62 years old.

Wilson was first diagnosed with thymic carcinoma in 2011, but continued to teach until 2013, according to an article on SFGate.com.

Physical education teacher Chris Walsh first met Wilson in the summer of 1996. “He had a lot of energy, he was a gentleman, and he had the corniest jokes you would ever hear. He was a good listener and very honest and thoughtful,” Walsh said.

During his time as athletic director, Campolindo enjoyed 2 straight selections by Cal-Hi-Sports as Division III School of the Year, and 4 straight North Coast Section titles from the baseball team.  During his last year as Athletic Director, the baseball and softball squads, as well as the boys’ swimming and volleyball teams were crowned NCS Champions. According to Walsh, Wilson was named the Athletic Director of the Year by the California Coaches’ Association.

Walsh said that Wilson’s devotion to his community was a major reason for his success. “Over the years, I learned that he really cared deeply about the town and the school community. He really cared about and wanted all our students to prosper which is why he was a great teacher, coach and AD [athletic director],” he said.

Current athletic director Tom Renno attended school with Wilson’s children and first met Wilson when Renno was a student at Campolindo in the late 1990s. Renno said, “I always had an immense amount of respect for Coach Wilson, but as I got to know him, what really struck me was his devotion to his family and loved ones.”

Senior Kevin Hull, who is currently on the varsity football team, played under Wilson on the freshman football team. “He was a bit of a jokester, but not in a bad way. He knew how to poke fun at you, but never in a mean or hurtful way,” Hull recalled.

Varsity football coach Kevin Macy said that before Wilson took over as athletic director, it was customary for there to be a separate athletic director for boys’ and girls’ sports. Wilson was the first athletic director who managed both girls’ and boys’ sports.

“He was everywhere supporting kids, not just in sports, but in other school wide activities. He was completely devoted to all aspects of life at Campolindo high school. All the kids in the PE department loved him. In terms of sports, he ushered in the golden age of Campo athletics,” Macy said.

“He taught us a lot of life lessons and he would always find a way to connect football to an aspect of life outside of the game,” Hull added.

English teacher Scott Brady-Smith first met Wilson while they were attending El Cerrito High School together. Brady-Smith said Wilson was a star football player, and the two played together sometimes. According to Brady-Smith, they reconnected about 20 years ago, when their children were playing volleyball together.

At that time, Wilson was close with then Campolindo principal Carol Kitchens, and helped Brady-Smith get a job at the school. Brady-Smith praised the way Wilson interacted with the people that he worked with. “Bob understood his kids better than anyone else I’ve ever known. He was still a big kid in a way. He enjoyed coming to school every day. He liked being around his students,” he said.

Assistant Principal Scott Biezad is the only current administrator who worked with Wilson. “Mr. Wilson was a great guy, he loved kids and he had a fantastic sense of humor. I had a lot of fun working with him,” he said.

Walsh said Wilson left a tremendous legacy. “Our students at Campolindo knew deep down that Bob Wilson truly cared about them as young adults,” Walsh said.

According to an email from Principal John Walker, Wilson passed away at his home surrounded by friends and family. Memorial services are being planned.

“Seeing how he fought through his illness has inspired me. He would talk about how you have to be tough on the football field, but things don’t always go the way you want them to and sometimes you have to persevere, and that’s what he did,” Hull said.