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Local icon Don Page dies

Don Page acknowledges the crowd during a roast for the former UW-River Falls Athletic Director in August, 2005, at the River Falls Golf Club. Page died Tuesday night, Sept. 14, at the age of 83.

Don Page, an icon of the UW-River Falls athletic department for over 50 years, died Tuesday night at the River Falls Area Hospital. He was 83.

Page had a long and distinguished career as a teacher, coach and administrator at UW-RF. He served the University in many capacities from his arrival in 1957 until his retirement in 1992.

Page will be long remembered for his leadership, coaching and teaching skills and the lasting friendships he made through his years as a coach, educator, official and athletic administrator.

Page was hired at UW-RF as the head basketball and baseball coach in 1957. He coached the Falcon basketball team from 1957-1966 and the baseball team from 1957-1974. He was an assistant football coach for the Falcons for 15 years. He led the 1964 and 1965 Falcon baseball teams to WIAC championships. In 1973 he took on the duties of coaching the men's tennis program, which he continued to do until 1980 and again from 1982-87.

In 1970, Page was named UW-RF's athletic director and served in that position until his retirement in 1992.

Page was a lone inductee to the UW-RF Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992.

Don Page became the "face" of UW-River Falls athletics," said Falcon head football coach John O'Grady. "He also was a tremendous representative for our University in general. During his years the University grew and flourished. Athletic programs sprouted and UW-River Falls became widely known in the region. It is very difficult to find town or city in this state that doesn't know of Don Page.

"His long lasting devotion to this University and this town displayed itself in many ways," O'Grady continued. "One of the most appreciated, for those of us in the athletic department, was the creation of his annual golf tournament. The proceeds from this have benefited all UW-River Falls athletes throughout the years. Don loved this town and this University. All you had to do was sit with him for just a few minutes and you would understand this. Don was not just our athletic director or our devoted supporter in all of the years since his retirement, the best thing many of us could say about Don was that he was a true friend. We will miss him terribly. But we also know that his memory will live on for generations to come."

"The UW-River Falls athletic department lost their icon in Don Page," said former Falcon men's basketball coach and athletic director Rick Bowen. "He was the face of our department and our leader. In 1985 Don convinced me that UW-RF was a great opportunity for me as the basketball coach. Sandy and I came to River Falls and began a long and wonderful association with the city and the University we now call home. There are so many of us that owe Don so much. Words cannot express the void he will leave. I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to be part of Don's extended University family."

After his retirement from UWRF, Page served as the supervisor of men's basketball and football officials for the WIAC for many years.

"The WIAC has lost an iconic figure," said WIAC Commissioner Gary Karner. "I can think of no other individual who contributed more to the WIAC, for as long, or in so many different capacities, than Don Page. Don's service to the WIAC will never be forgotten and is unlikely ever to be surpassed."

Page was a long time and well-respected WIAA football official and worked contests in six decades. He received the first annual David McClain Award for his distinguished service from the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association in 1987 and was inducted into the WFCA's Hall of Fame in 2004.

Page also officiated basketball and in 1968 he became the only man in WIAA history to play, coach and officiate in the state tournament.

He was inducted into the NAIA District 14 Hall of Fame for his many years of service as secretary-treasurer and an executive committee member. Page was inducted into the Madison Sports Hall of Fame in 1988 and into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2004.

Page and his wife Jo were married for 59 years and have three children, John, David and Susan and 12 grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are pending with Bakken-Young Funeral & Cremation Services of River Falls.

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