Hall of Fame basketball coach William “Jake” Maberry, who led Lynden to four state championships, died Sunday at age 86. The family confirmed his death on Facebook.
Maberry’s death came a day after the school’s current football coach, Curt Kramme, died of complications from cancer on Saturday.
“I’m hurting right now, because ... it’s just tough when you lose special people that made such a difference, like Jake and Curt did,” Lynden athletic director Mike McKee said Monday. “But most importantly, I’m hurting for the families. I know if I’m hurting like this, I can’t imagine what they’re feeling.”
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McKee said what makes the losses so difficult is that while Maberry and Kramme may have been best known throughout Whatcom County and the state as successful high school basketball and football coaches, their reach and what they meant in Lynden extended well beyond that.
Like Kramme, Maberry was a teacher at Lynden for a number of years – teaching Washington state history, Physical Education and Health – and like Kramme, McKee said, Maberry was an amazing human being who truly cared about Lynden. Maberry also was known for helping run a successful farming business and as an avid outdoors man.
“The legacy Jake left in basketball is just a small part of the impact he had on kids’ lives,” McKee said. “He was a noble guy, an honorable guy, a caring guy, a giving guy surrounded by a fantastic family. ... That family put so much time and effort into this community.”
Maberry, who graduated from Lynden High in 1948, coached the Lions for 27 years, leading the program to its first four state titles in 1961, ’62, ’67 and ’81. The 1981 team went undefeated.
“Jake created a legacy of excellence from which many Lynden coaches and players have been benefited,” current Lions coach Brian Roper wrote in an email. “We are proud and thankful to be part of that tradition today.”
Maberry, who also coached two seasons at Central Kitsap, compiled a 521-178 record and held the state record for most victories until 1989, six years after his retirement. Heading into last season, he ranked 11th in the state for most coaching wins.
McKee said he was always impressed with Maberry’s vision when it came to basketball, his ability to break down players and teams after watching one game, his passion for the game and the positive energy he had for it, which caused others to gravitate to him.
“When you played for him, it was like being part of a family,” said former Lynden coach John Clark, who played for Maberry from 1958-61 and served as assistant on Maberry’s staff for six years. “He was a great emotional leader and took you in. He and his wife, Money, took care of us like they were their own kids. He was a tremendous competitor. He competed so hard in everything he did. If he were fishing, if we were playing ping pong, he played to win.”
He led Lynden to 16 league titles, nine district championships and advanced to state 15 times, winning 12 trophies.
“An awful lot of young people he worked with have extremely fond memories,” Clark said. “He contributed to our success in teaching us not only on a basketball court, but skills we used for life.”
Maberry was inducted into the Washington Coaches Hall of Fame in 1992. He also was inducted into the University of Puget Soud Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Lynden Athletic Hall of Fame in its first class of honorees in 2008.
“You know you are an icon when someone in town just refers to you by your first name and everyone knows who you are talking about,” Roper said. “It was always just ‘Jake.’”
Maberry was affectionately known as “Mr. Lion,” and the gymnasium at Lynden High was named after him in 1988. Clark said he still looks ups to Maberry as a “father figure in my life.”
In 2015, Money joined her husband in the Lynden Athletic Hall of Fame for her contributions to the basketball program and the Lynden community.
“I take great pride and have this thankfulness for what Jake and Curt brought to our community,” McKee said. “Both guys were such outstanding individuals. ... While I definitely hurt after losing them, part of me wants to celebrate what great people they were. Somehow this small town was lucky enough to have one guy like that in 100 years. The fact that we had two is really quite extraordinary.”