Father, husband, coach, and friend, David Ralph Sladky passed away on December 12th, 2016 in Medina, Ohio with Carol, his wife of 48 years, by his side.
Born on July 22nd, 1942 in Parma, OH as the third of Charles and Emily’s four boys, Dave graduated with a great crew of lifelong friends from Brecksville High School as a four-sport athlete in 1960. He went on to Wittenberg University to play varsity basketball and baseball, garnering all Regional NCAA Baseball recognition in 1963.
After graduation, it was in his first coaching position at Oberlin High School that a coaching dynasty began. While at Oberlin he was introduced to the love of his life and number one Buckeye fan, Carol Niesz (OSU 1963). After getting married in 1968, the two headed to California where Dave finished his Masters degree and coached the freshman team at San Diego State University.
Returning to Ohio, he spent time at Strongsville High School and Baldwin Wallace College before finding his true home in 1972 as head basketball coach and guidance counselor at Wadsworth High School, home of the Grizzlies. It is there that he had the most profound effect on the countless players and students for whom he was a mentor, leader and friend. His calm presence, quick smile and relentless positive attitude were the benchmarks of time with Coach Sladky. That and a full court style that crushed opponents.
Dave’s teams inspired the town, most notably as state runners-up in the Ohio State Basketball Tournament in 1981. This Ohio High School Basketball Hall of Fame coach retired in 1993 after 32 years, but he couldn’t stay in the bleachers. In 2001 he accepted the role of Athletic Director and head basketball coach at the United States Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, RI. He and Carol truly loved their close ties with the Naval Academy, and serving in a role at the school where their son Matt began his Naval career.
Retiring again in 2004, Dave focused on his grandkids, financial business, golf, incredible friends and traveling with Carol. His years spent on the greens at Rawiga, at Lyons’ Club meetings, as a deacon at First Christian, on time share boards, and especially on the bench beside his son Mike at his alma mater, Brecksville High, were some of the best of his life.
Cancer made life hard earned for this Hall of Famer, but Dave was a warrior. His first encounter with the disease in ’97 resulted in surgery and a record of beating adversity head on – even with half of stomach removed, no one has done better work at a buffet than this man. Each time the disease returned, he persevered with an iron will, ultimate positive attitude and no doubt that he would beat it; he lifted weights in his bed until a week before hospice. While his body succumbed to cancer in the early morning of Monday, December 12th 2016, his spirit never did.
Dave leaves behind a legacy of solid defense, gorgeous grandchildren, tremendous friends, and a basement full of unique items that he was certain had much more life left in them. (All free to a good home.) He was a constant reminder to stay positive, persevere, and never, ever waste a day or an opportunity to do good work. His only weakness was for his grandchildren, whom he loved dearly. He raised men who are unfailingly good and kind, who learned from him the joy of a great meal and a drink to toast those you love.
Dave leaves behind his wife Carol, son Mike, daughter in law Heather and granddaughter Marissa of Medina, OH; son Matt, daughter in law Lacey and grandchildren Addison and Logan of Annapolis, MD; and his three brothers Ken, Ron and Rich. He rejoins his parents Emily and Charles and grandsons Alex and Tyler in heaven. Those who have lost their hero will keep Dave’s spirit alive through passion for the game, life and family. Goodnight, Coach. Na zdraví!
Visitation will be held at the Hilliard-Rospert Funeral Home, 174 N. Lyman St., Wadsworth from 1-4pm and 5-8pm on Thursday, December 15th. A memorial service will be held at First Christian Church of Wadsworth, 116 E. Boyer Street, Wadsworth on Friday, December 16th at 11:00am.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to First Christian Church, 116 E. Boyer Street, Wadsworth, OH 44281, or a scholarship fund established in Dave’s name: David Sladky Scholarship, c/o Wadsworth City Schools, Treasurer’s Office, 524 Broad Street, Wadsworth, OH 44281.