Chippewa Falls coach Rick Silloway

Chippewa Falls golf coach Rick Silloway, right, shown here with 2019 sectional qualifier Brett Elkin, died Friday from complications caused by COVID-19.

COVID-19 has claimed the life of a popular Chippewa Falls High School golf coach.

Richard "Rick" Silloway, 70, of rural Chippewa Falls died Friday at Marshfield Medical Center in Eau Claire. Silloway, who had retired from teaching but continued in his role as boys golf coach and public-address announcer for the school's football and basketball games, posted on his Facebook page two weeks ago that he and his wife Jan had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Silloway started coaching the Cardinals boys golf team in 1990 and, 30 years later, was still active in that role this past spring when COVID-19 forced cancelation of the WIAA boys golf season across the state. He started the girls golf program at Chippewa Falls in 2013 and continued to coach the Cardinals through the 2019 season before handing the coaching duties to Morgan Hanson for the 2020 season.

Chippewa Falls athletic director Mike Thompson announced Silloway's death in a Twitter post Saturday evening.

Silloway's Facebook page was filled with remembrances from friends, his former fourth-grade students, former "Chi-Hi" golfers and others. Former Eau Claire North golfer Tyler Bee remembered Silloway's sense of humor during matches against the Cardinals.

"He wasn’t my high school golf coach, but all those years I golfed against his team he’d always strike up a conversation and, by the end of it, I’d be belly laughing," Bee wrote. "He always had great advice to give."

Silloway created a website for his team documenting the first 25 years of his coaching career, which included a 2008 trip to the WIAA Division 1 state tournament — the program's first state berth in 40 years.

He recalled taking over the program in 1990 from Swede Swenson when Chippewa Falls called the nine-hole Elks Golf Club home. (It is now an 18-hole facility called Lake Wissota GC.)

"I remember we had to rake a lot of the course in the spring. That was our payment to play there," Silloway wrote. "The boys had so many blisters on their hands, it was hard to play that first match!"

For the 1991 team's entry, Silloway noted: "My second year, we moved the team to Timber Terrace GC — so we wouldn't have to rake!"

The Cardinals would move back to what is now Lake Wissota in 1998 and it was there where they turned in one of the program's most memorable performances during Silloway's era. That came in 2005 when Chippewa Falls shot 298 at the Big Rivers Conference Championship only to finish second to River Falls, which shot what Silloway called "an unheard-of 286."

Senior Cody Peterson shot a 3-under-par 68 that day and finished second to River Falls' Tyler Obermueller, a future Wisconsin State Amateur champion (2009) who shot 66 that day. "Cody had many great rounds this year and made first-team all-conference for the second year in a row," Silloway wrote.

In an interview with the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram published Sunday, Peterson — now the general manager at Lake Wissota — called Silloway "a special, special man" and described the impact of Silloway's death.

"He was one of the best people you could come across," Peterson told the Leader-Telegram. "It's a sad time for the community. We lost a good one."

Arrangements are pending through Celebration of Life Center in Altoona.

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