Obituary of Richard Gagnon
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Rich Gagnon passed peacefully away on Sunday, November 14, 2021 at a local memory care residence after living with dementia for many years.
Rich was born in Westbrook, Maine to Joseph and Lois Gagnon on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1946. He was the youngest of three children. His siblings, Steve and Susie, did their best to model ideal behavior for "Dickie," but he had ideas of his own. He loved taking off to scare up fun with his friends, especially if sports were involved.
Rich first attended a Catholic elementary, but when he was old enough for junior high, he convinced his parents that he needed to attend Westbrook Junior High to participate in the sports that were so important to him. This was his special purpose. He played football, baseball, and basketball on the school teams and created friendships that would last his whole life.
Rich was focused and driven to excel in whatever sport he played, but baseball was his first love in high school. He played catcher in the local Legion Baseball program. This team was loaded with talent, and Rich was the team captain. His ultimate goal was to become a professional baseball player, and professional scouts were seriously looking at him. Unfortunately for Rich, though, a wild fast pitch hit him in the head during a game, destroying the retina in one eye, and doctors told him contact sports in the future were out of the question.
Rich always loved the outdoors and was even an Eagle Scout, so when a friend of his had gotten accepted at The University of Alaska at Fairbanks, Rich, very interested in that idea, decided that Alaska would be the perfect place for him to pursue a career in wildlife management. He only attended one year in Alaska, though, because he was approached to play football at a new startup football team at Spokane Falls Community College.
Despite his eye injury, Rich played football for Spokane Falls Community College on a team that was later inducted into the Junior College Football Hall of Fame. He continued his collegiate career at The College of Idaho and was named the team's Most Valuable Player for the 1970 season. After graduating from the College of Idaho, he was offered a chance to play pro-level football for the Calgary Stampeders, but he decided Calgary was not for him.
Thus began Rich's favorite years of his life when he got his first coaching and teaching job at Boise High School in 1972. It was at the end of Rich's first year at Boise High that he started dating Kathy Woodward, a teacher at Fairmont Jr. High. Instant hit! Six months later, they married! The couple was blessed with two amazing kids, and Rich loved being a father. He shared his love of athletics and his love of the outdoors with his boys. They embarked on hundreds of adventures fishing, hunting, camping, and mostly just causing trouble. Together they made a lifetime full of memories. Rich was so proud of who his boys became. Kathy and Rich enjoyed 48 years together.
Rich coached and taught at Boise High from 1972 to 1998, when Rich went to Timberline High School as it opened as a fourth Boise high school. He continued to be the head coach there until he retired in 2002. After retirement, Rich said, "Even though I am not coaching at present, I am still adamant that coaching is by far the best and most important profession one could choose to teach, serve, and help mold young people's lives." This statement summed up Rich's career. Rich's love of teaching and passion for athletics was the perfect combination. He absolutely loved working with young athletes and cherished the lifelong friendships he formed with his fellow coaches and many of his players.
Throughout his life, Rich had many passions: athletics, teaching, the great outdoors, woodworking, fly-tying, his jerky recipe, and even baking bread. He loved to share his passions with his friends and family.
Rich will be remembered for his sense of humor, his storytelling, and his generosity. Students remember the many one-liners in his repertoire. He loved laughing and making other people laugh. Rich had a way of making people feel special and important and always helped people feel positive about themselves. He had no tolerance for people who put others down and was anti-bullying before that became a thing.
Rich is preceded in death by his parents, Joe and Lois Gagnon as well as his sister-in-law Theresa Gagnon. He is survived by his life-long partner Kathy, his beloved sons, Ben (Liberty) and Brad (Molly), and four grandchildren, Sarah, Hayden, Dylan, and Carver.
The Gagnon family would like to thank the wonderful caregivers at Swan Falls Assisted Living in Kuna for their loving care and dedication to helping dementia patients. Heart and Home Hospice also provided great support, both to Rich and the family.
There will be a memorial service for Rich at 2:00 on January 15, 2022 at Summer's Funeral Home at 3629 E Ustick Rd, Meridian, ID 83642. Afterward, you are welcome to attend a celebration of Rich's life nearby at the Meridian Senior Center at the Park at 1920 N Records Way, Meridian, ID 83642, next to The Village.