Two days after ’s head football coach , those who knew him best are trying to make peace with his sudden passing.
"Nick always said that God calls you when you die," said Seaholm's former head football coach and Deane's friend, Chris Fahr. "Maybe Nick's work on earth is done and he can now rest."
Deane — Troy resident, football coach for both Troy and Seaholm, husband and father of four — died in his home Monday night at age 52. Deane is survived by his wife and children, his grandson, a brother, sister and nephew.
Deane's family and friends will honor the man his friends called a "gentle giant" at funeral services to be held this weekend at Woodside Bible Church in Troy. Visitations will be held at Woodside from 1-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Friday, and from 10-11 a.m. Saturday. The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday.
During those times, the Birmingham and Troy communities will remember an inspiring man who filled the room with his enthusiasm, kindness and gentle spirit — a "tremendous human being," said Gary Griffith, head football coach at Troy and Deane's friend for 25 years.
"Nick was the kind of guy you couldn't be in a room with and not have a smile on your face," said Griffith.
A lifetime defined by leadership
According to Griffith, Deane had three priorities in life: his family, his religious beliefs and football.
Deane grew up in Grosse Ile, graduating from Grosse Ile High School before attending Central Michigan University, where he studied business and industrial psychology.
During college, Deane married his high school sweetheart, Timari. They had four children: Joshua, 29; Jared, 25; Jordan, 16, and Moriah, 10. Besides raising their own children, the Deanes also took in a number of foster children throughout the years.
Deane would go on to coach football in Grosse Ile, then in Naples, FL, before returning to Michigan and moving to Troy. Deane worked at Ford Motor Co. for 22 years as a millwright, a skilled tradesman concerned with steel construction and fabrication, said Deane's co-worker at Ford, Rich Stickley.
He joined the football coaching staff at Troy High School, the school where his sons would go on to play football. Deane spent 14 seasons there, eventually becoming an assistant varsity coach as well as the offensive line and special teams coordinator.
In 2008 Deane was invited to join the coaching staff at Seaholm by then head coach Chris Fahr, already a friend of the Deanes after meeting Nick and Tamari at a couples coaching conference. According to Woodside's facilities manager Clayton Goers, when Deane was promoted to head coach three years later, it was the pinnacle of his career.
"This was his dream come true," Goers said.
Fahr, however, said Deane was hired for more than his coaching skills or his way with his kids — it was his way with people.
"The cool thing about Nick is that most coaches can have an impact on kids," Fahr said. "The special thing about Nick is he could influence grown people to be better. That's more of an indication of who he was as a man."
Goers agreed. Deane worked at Woodside as part of the church's special needs ministry and as volunteer director. He was a deeply religious man, Goers said, noting that Deane's spirit reflected a deep committment to Jesus.
"From his work ethic, to his calming spirit," he said. "He had a presence about him and was quite the amazing guy."
Deane was also a “tremendous family man,” Griffith said, devoting nearly all his energy to his children and football players.
“He’s one of those football coaches who cares for all of his players. … He plays like a secondary father figure to a lot of my teammates,” Seaholm junior quarterback John Glazier .
Seaholm football program to pick up where Deane left off
For the Seaholm coaching staff, Deane’s loss is a hit to the program. After assuming the role of head coach, Seaholm athletic director Aaron Frank said Deane mapped a clear vision for the school’s entire football community with a plan to implement that vision.
“He generated so much enthusiasm and passion — it’s a tremendous loss,” Frank said. “It’s hard to put into words, really.
“He conducted himself in a way that was professional, inspiring, positive and hard-working. We were all excited for the future of the program and for our kids to have the experience of playing for Nick and learning from Nick.”
Frank said players described him as fair but firm. “He was very clean, there was nothing ambiguous about him. He was clear about his expectations. He was tough and disciplined.”
The school hasn't discussed finding a replacement coach. The team hasn’t been left disorganized, Frank said, noting Deane, through his attention to detail, laid out an intensive organizational structure for the program.
“We have a very strong network in place to get us through the short term,” Frank said. “Our focus right now is on helping our students in our building and getting them through the grief.”
Coaches, counselors and school staff were available Tuesday to speak with students and members of the football team. Frank said the players are committed to following the plans Deane left for them.
“After the services and focusing our attention on our kids and the football community, we’ll tackle (finding a new coach) next,” Frank said. “We are committed not only to making sure that students have a good, solid leader, but also committed to the path Nick laid out for us.”
The Woodside Bible Church is located at 6600 Rochester Rd. in Troy.
The family has requested donations be made by check payable to Woodside Bible Church with a memo "Deane Children Fund." Potere-Modetz Funeral Home in Rochester will be taking care of funeral arrangements.