More than 700 friends, family members, colleagues and football players poured into the Woodside Bible Church in Troy on Saturday to pay tribute to the memory of beloved football coach, mentor, family man and church member Nick Deane.
, 52, a Troy resident and the recently appointed , died of a heart attack on May 30. He left behind many loved ones, including his high school sweetheart and wife, Timari, and four children, Moriah, 10; Jordan, 16; Jared, 25; and Joshua, 29. Joshua Deane’s son Joshua was Deane’s only grandchild, and was the “twinkle in his eye.”
“The quality of my dad is not something I can fully describe in words," said Joshua, who spoke at the funeral. "His shoulders were strong enough for every burden ever whispered by my mother, my brothers and sister. He was our rock, our absolute rock.”
During the service, Deane's friends and family laughed, cried and stood up to praise the kindhearted, religious man described as larger than life, a prodigious planner and unrelenting teaser.
According to Seaholm junior and football player Kramer Schultz, Deane's take on life was contagious. Just being in his presence, he said, could change your outlook and the way you talked about things.
Seaholm's former head coach, Chris Fahr, credited Deane for teaching him to be a better coach. A choked-up Fahr, who now coaches football at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, IA, said he was struggling before Deane joined the Seaholm coaching staff in 2008.
“He threw out the phrase you can’t teach old dogs new tricks out the window…he made grown men better. How do I know that? Because he made me better,” Fahr said.
Before coming to Seaholm as an offensive line and special teams coordinator, Deane coached football at Troy High School for 14 years.
“Nick was very special to our program and to me personally from the get-go,” Fahr said. “Passion was Nick’s greatest strength … He would have a long-lasting effect on every kid that he came in contact with.”
And always, at home and with his players, he led by example. “He was my coach from the moment I was born to the moment he passed away,” Joshua Deane said.
After the funeral, junior Kai Czajka reminisced about the first time he met Deane. He said that as a larger man, Deane stuck out, and Czajka was curious to meet the likeable guy. Czajka went up to Deane, put out his hand for a handshake – and Deane reached out and gave him a hug instead.
“I knew right then what kind of guy he was,” Czajka said. “In a way he signified hope for the program. Him passing doesn’t mean hope is lost though; we still know he will be there watching over us.”
During the service, Joshua Deane talked about those hugs from his father. “There was inherent security in his arms,” he said.
And Fahr pointed out that Deane had an impact on his football players without yet having played a game as a team.
“Although he didn’t get to coach a game as head coach, he did more in five months than most coaches do in five years,” Fahr said.
To the young men that Deane was to be coaching on the sidelines this coming fall, Joshua Deane said this: “To the special boys, as you become men more and more each day, please remember my father — he loved you as extended sons. Remember his example of integrity, and compassion will serve you on the field and throughout your lives.”
The funeral lasted slightly over an hour and was followed by a graveside service at Christian Memorial Cemetery in Rochester Hills. Then family and friends were asked to join together in the gym at the church for a luncheon.
Donations may be made in memory of Nick Deane to Woodside Bible Church. Checks should be made payable to Woodside Bible Church with the memo "Deane Children Fund."