Longtime Grinnell, Lafayette Coaches Pass Away



College swimming lost two longtime coaches on Saturday.  Ray Obermiller, head coach at Grinnell College for 29 years and Bill Lawson, Lafayette's head swimming and diving coach for 37 years both passed away this weekend.  

Obermiller enjoyed an illustrious 29-year, 20-championship career as swimming coach. A Grinnell staff member since 1966, he had his first conference title team in 1970. After that, his men's teams took the Midwest Conference crown 16 more times, including a string of eight in a row. Obermiller-coached women's teams were also successful, winning the league title in three of his final four seasons as coach.

Obermiller retired from his fulltime teaching and coaching position in 1995. He had continued involvement with the Pioneer swimming and diving program until recent years by serving as an assistant coach.

Lawson, 79, died in a car crash on Interstate 78.  He took over the Lafayette swimminig and tennis programs in 1965.  In 1972 he added lacrosse to his head coaching duties and its there that he made his mark.

"All of us in the Lafayette family are stunned by the news of Bill's tragic passing," said Lafayette Director of Athletics Bruce McCutcheon. "Our hearts are broken for his wife Peggy and his family. Family was at the very heart of Bill's being and he was the most positive person I knew. No matter the kind of day you were having, Bill's very presence put a smile on your face. He was a great friend and colleague. He will be sorely missed."

Lawson, like many coaches of his era was a graduate of Springfield College, where he swam under the legendary Red Silvia.

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