Jerry Farber lived every day with a warm smile and a welcoming spirit.
He coached Yorkville boys basketball during its most winningest stretch. He was just at home with a fishing pole or golf club in his hand.
He touched the lives of countless kids he coached. He mentored many other coaches.
“He was the type of guy that could strike up a conversation about anything with anybody,” said Yorkville football coach Dan McGuire, who was a volunteer sophomore coach, freshman coach and varsity assistant on Farber’s basketball staff. “He wanted people to feel welcome. He was the same way as a coach. He wanted kids to feel welcome, wanted them to enjoy the experience, to have success on the court and fun on and off the court.”
Farber, who coached Yorkville’s boys basketball team for 12 seasons from 1999-2011 and also coached boys golf in his 22 years as teacher at the school, died on Friday due to complications from liver disease. The Morris native was 68.
Farber in his third season as boys basketball coach led the Foxes to one of the school’s two sectional championships. The Foxes went 25-2 two seasons later, and the following season – the 2004-2005 season, Yorkville set a school win record with a 26-2 record, won a regional title and played Naperville Central in a sectional game at East Aurora.
“Chad Trudeau was our headliner, Naperville Central had [Ryan] Paradise and half of the gym was completely full of Yorkville fans,” McGuire said. “It was so cool to see how much support our program had because of Jerry. He had us rolling. He believed in our kids and let them flourish.”
An accomplished athlete himself, Farber while at Illinois State set the school’s golf course record with a 61 in 1975. He recorded six holes-in-one in his lifetime. He came to Yorkville High School from Morris in 1989, and took on the golf program before becoming basketball coach.
“The program was lucky – we couldn’t have found a better person to take it over. He was a very talented golfer,” said Bob Evans, Yorkville’s athletic director when Farber came in as a coach. “He was a good coach, successful, kids really enjoyed playing for him and were better off playing for him. He had high standards for the team but also for himself. That was reflected in how hard his teams played. They gave effort to the end, and did everything with class. That is how Jerry was.”
A heavy heart for @YHSAthletics115 today. Former YHS Basketball coach, YHS Golf coach, and Teacher Jerry Farber passed away on Friday, April 15th. Coach Farber was an incredible coach, mentor and friend to so many. Our thoughts are with the Farber family. https://t.co/SDdhZkVFno pic.twitter.com/vhhKVJHShC
— Yorkville Foxes (@YHSAthletics115) April 16, 2022
Another former Yorkville AD, Seth Schoonover, echoed that sentiment from multiple perspectives.
He competed against Farber’s Foxes’ teams for several years while Schoonover was head basketball coach at Minooka. Coaching friends, Schoonover said Farber was influential in getting him to come to Yorkville, where he was AD in 2011 when Farber retired.
“First class individual. Every day Jerry had a smile on his face,” Schoonover said. “He coached some great teams and then he coached some teams that weren’t great. One year they only won two or three games and you wouldn’t know the difference between the 25-win team when you talked to him. He treated the kids the same no matter whether they were winning or losing. It takes a classy individual.”
Steve Bjork, an assistant under Farber from 1999-2003 and now the Principal at Yorkville Intermediate School, respected and admired the manner in which Farber interacted with students and adults a like. Farber brought an even-keeled temperament to both coaching and teaching, encouraging people to give their best, “intense, but in a good way.”
“To the school, he’s just a model of excellence, carry yourself the way you should be carried, a mentor and role model to the students,” Bjork said. “I don’t think I ever heard him speak to a student in not a student-centered way. He would get on athletes when he needed to, but in a respectful way. He treated people the way you would want to be treated.”
“He is a legend, not only for what he did for the school but all the kids whose lives he touched,” Schoonover said. “He was a great resource to have, a great individual, always did it the right way.”
After his retirement in 2011 Farber continued to coach for Newark High School’s fishing team. Evans called Farber the best fisherman he’d ever been around.
McGuire, who like Evans went fishing with Farber quite a bit, said that everything he did, he gave his 100%.
“He’d coach as hard as he could, and we’d fish the entire trip,” McGuire said. “He would wake up, fish at 5 a.m. and still be fishing at 10 p.m. Everything he did, he did 100%.”
That also extended to Farber’s support for Yorkville the athletic program, school and community. Even toward the end, Farber followed Foxes’ basketball closely.
“He really believed that his kids could compete against anybody, believed in coaches to do their job,” McGuire said. “He believed in this town and this community and wanted the best for it.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle