Coach: Favorite coach, favorite teacher, Glenview through and through
"He was my favorite teacher."
"He was my favorite coach."
I don't think I ever heard that as much about one person, in all my days in Glenview, as I did about Steve Eich. A truly special person, teacher, coach and family man, who influenced so many in Glenview over his many years of living here while going to school, teaching and coaching in the community.
Steve passed away on Monday, Sept. 6, after a long bout with pancreatic cancer at the way-too-young age of 69. He had just battled and beaten a just recent case of bladder cancer before he got the pancreatic cancer diagnosis. He leaves behind his wife, Nancy, and three children: Bobby, and twins, Emily and John.
Eich was Glenview through and through. He not only grew up in Glenview, graduating from Glenbrook South High School in 1970, but he came back to serve the community in numerous ways.
His younger days while coaching Glenview Youth Baseball house league teams with his friend Jay Loprest are legendary. The two coached for pure love of the game and were by far the most popular of the coaches at the time. It is in fact where the "he was my favorite coach" mantra was first heard. Hundreds of Glenview kids over the years benefitted from his love of baseball, his sense of humor, and his teaching of fundamentals of the game. Not to mention each child gaining a new "nickname," as he was famous for giving every player on the team a special one. (quick note: Coaching partner Loprest, sadly and amazingly, also passed away in 2015 from the very same pancreatic cancer)
Eich was also the long time camp director for the very popular Valley Lo Sports camp in Glenview for a number of years, influencing and inspiring hundreds more, from his popular leadership in that role.
He was an incredibly avid Cubs fan, decorating his house and school office with numerous Cub artifacts, and after suffering through so many frustrating years, rejoiced with great robust in celebrating when his beloved team finally won the World Series.
Steve had a smile and hearty laugh that could cut through any tension or uneasiness. It was contagious for sure, and he had that unique ability to make you feel better every time you engaged in conversation with him. His upbeat attitude and love of life always permeating through any discussion.
I was lucky enough to have Steve as a friend for many years, getting to know him first through my days at the Glenview Park District, and then spending one year coaching a freshman basketball team with him at Niles West High School. I got to see first hand how kids responded to him and what a superb teacher of the game that he was.
We might add, here, that for a really long time, Steve might have been Glenview's unofficial "most eligible bachelor" as, despite efforts from many, he remained single until he was 49 years old! Finally finding the love of his life in Hinsdale Central teacher Nancy Harper (whom he met from a Glenbrook South connection).
Steve become a late-in-life father, having three children after getting married, and his retirement years were totally dedicated to the love and attention of his kids and wife.
As for his Glenbrook South teaching days? His long tenure there was impactful to say the least. He was hired in 1985 as a social studies teacher and taught and coached at the school until retiring in 2009.
I will let the words of his fellow teachers and friends complete the "picture" of Steve Eich and the incredible influence he had during his many years at Glenbrook South.
Ben Widner, GBS social studies teacher
"Talking about Steve's impact is easy. Losing him is hard. Teaching with Steve was like standing on the shoulders of a giant. He was the most gracious educator in terms of his time, mentorship, and wisdom. Every student that goes through Glenbrook South is still feeling the impact of his legacy, whether they know it or not, because his influence on other teachers was so profound. It is impossible to teach in our department without referencing his methods, his style or his professionalism."
Dr. Brian Wegley, superintendent of Northbrook/Glenview District 30, was principal at South during Steve's teaching years: "Steve was an incredible person and teacher. His loss hits all of us very hard."
David Schoenwetter, GBS head football coach and teacher
"Steve was my first youth baseball coach as a ten year old playing for the Glenview State Bank team. He created a positive, encouraging, and disciplined culture with our team. Later he coached me in high school and became my U.S. history teacher. I was always impressed with his attention to detail and his love of working with young people. The impact Steve had on me played a large role in me deciding to get into teaching and coaching. I hope that my work at Glenbrook South pays forward all that I received from Steve."
Steve Weissenstein, retired GBS head basketball coach and business teacher
"There was not a better teacher or coach at Glenbrook South than Steve. He was always looking for creative ways to make history come alive in his classes. Steve's life was devoted to serving others, and every student and athlete fortunate enough to have been mentored by him will attest to that."
John Meyer, GBS social studies teacher
"Steve was a leader in our social studies department. He was always great fun to talk to about history, sports, or politics. I always admired his energy and approach to life, as it set an example that I still try to follow today."
Bob Schoenwetter, retired longtime GBS head football coach and teacher
"As a coach I always admired Steve's ability to relate to kids and to keep it fun, while still being very knowledgeable and teaching the fundamentals of the game. At South he was a master teacher, amazingly creative in his use of technology and in his classroom video presentations. Years ago, he created a summer school class called "History of Baseball." The class became legendary and lived on for years."
Terry Benjamin, retired social studies teacher, and Steve's close friend
"Steve and I connected on so many levels. At times it was like we almost completed each other's thoughts. He was such a great friend, and was the consummate teacher, combining enthusiasm with thoroughness and knowledge of so many different topics. If there were papers to be read and graded, Steve would read every last one of them. He never cut corners."
"I kept in touch with Steve through his illness. First the bladder cancer, and then the unconnected but tragic pancreatic cancer diagnosis. It was tough, but he stayed positive through all the different treatments and tests. He was dedicated to his kids right to the end. Whenever he had the energy, he would never stay home and rest, but instead take the kids out, spend time with them, and give them as many experiences as he could. He packed a lifetime of parenting into a short period of time, that is for sure."
Finally, I will let these words, sent to me by Bob Schoenwetter, have the final say:
Heroes come in many forms ... Steve did cast many stones as a good son, brother, colleague, coach, teacher, dad and role model.
"I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples." Mother Teresa
Rest in Peace, Steve
• Jon Cohn of Glenview is a coach, retired PE teacher, sports official and prep sports fan. To contact him with comments or story ideas, email firstname.lastname@example.org.