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Archive for Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Youth sports legend Tony Ice dies

September 26, 2007

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William Anthony "Tony" Ice, long active in a wide variety of youth programs in Lawrence, most notably American Legion baseball, died Tuesday at Kansas City (Mo.) Veterans Medical Center at the age of 86.

Mass of Christian burial for Ice is pending. Details will be announced today by Warren Mc-Elwain Mortuary.

Ice, the 1975 recipient of the Service to Mankind Award presented by Lawrence's Sertoma Club, spent his boyhood in the Richland and Big Springs areas and served 42 months in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He was an all-sports letterman at old Lecompton High.

He began work in youth programs as a 4-H leader. He spent four decades in Legion baseball and also was a coach of track and basketball at the grade school level at St. John's School and coach at the old South Park League.

Tony, his late brother Al, and the late Louie Heinrich have been credited as the three main reasons the Legion baseball program has maintained its excellence throughout history.

The baseball diamond at Holcom Complex is named "Al and Tony Ice Field."

"The coaching staff (in heaven) is now complete: Tony, Al and Louie," said former Kansas University baseball standout Lee Ice, Tony's nephew. Lee now works as youth sports director for the City of Lawrence Parks and Recreation and is a former Legion baseball coach.

"All were involved in youth athletics and coached together. They were the mafia, Louie, Tony and Al," Lee said jokingly. "It's one of the first things I thought of when I heard of his passing. That they are all back together talking baseball.

"His health had been failing gradually over the last two to five years. He had some bad days and good days. I always think of him as being strong."

Of his dad, Al, and uncle Tony, Lee said: "That's where my family got it (love of coaching youths). My brother coached Little League football 25 years. It's not a legacy, but a way of life for us. That's what they did, they helped young people. They knew a lot of people and helped a lot of kids."

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