Eldred district community mourns the loss of Chris Gonzalez

By SUSAN WADE
Posted 12/14/21

ELDRED, NY — The community lost one of its pillars with the too-soon passing of Chris Gonzalez, 44, of Barryville.

Described by all as an amazing husband, father, friend, coach and …

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Eldred district community mourns the loss of Chris Gonzalez

Posted

ELDRED, NY — The community lost one of its pillars with the too-soon passing of Chris Gonzalez, 44, of Barryville.

Described by all as an amazing husband, father, friend, coach and all-around great guy, “Coach Chris” left an indelible impression on those whose lives he touched.

Among those feeling the pain are members of the Eldred athletic program, and specifically the members of the girls’ varsity basketball team.

Gonzalez began his basketball involvement six years ago, coaching the modified girls’ team, and stayed with members of that original group of girls through junior varsity and then the varsity squad.

Seniors Dana Donnelly, Jailyn Labuda and Jada Reed were beneficiaries of Gonzalez’s tutelage for their entire basketball careers.

“Some of the girls played primarily because he was their coach. He taught them the fundamentals of the game and they wanted to play for him,” said Eldred Central School Athletic Director J.J. Gass. “He’d be tough on them but he earned their respect, not only as a coach but as a caring father figure.”

Donnelly agreed with Gass’s statement, adding “He was my best friend’s dad, so I spent a lot of time with him and his family while I was growing up. He was like a second father.”  

Reed became a bit emotional as she smilingly recalled the times during games when he’d scream out directives to her and others on the playing floor. “He really did love every single one of us,” she said.

Labuda added, “A funny memory I have of Mr. Gonzalez was him pointing out how I would go up for my layups with my tongue sticking out. I had no idea I was doing this. He imitated me and we all just cried out laughing.”

Donnelly said that his caring extended beyond the basketball court. “He was genuinely interested in each of us as individuals; he saw us as people with lives beyond basketball. He cared about how we were doing in school and at home.”

“I knew him outside of coaching,” Gass added. “He was dedicated to his family and loved his community. He was a T-ball and Little League coach and served on the Little League board. He was always ready to help out. If I needed someone to handle the scorebook, he’d readily volunteer.”

“It was an honor to play for him,” said Reed.     

Labuda wholeheartedly agreed. “I know basketball will never be the same. I also know that he wouldn’t want any of us to quit or give up just because he is no longer with us.  He would want us to keep striving to be the best we can and to do great in life.  That’s all he ever wanted to see for us.”

Although he worked in Ellenville, Gonzalez found time for all. He would use his vacation and personal time to get back to Eldred in time to ride the team bus with his girls. “I don’t know how he did it, but he made time for everyone,” said Gass, who counted Coach Chris as not only a colleague but a valued friend.

Said Eldred Superintendent John Morgano, “Chris was an outstanding coach, loved by his players, and dedicated to the success of the Eldred School District.”

Coach Chris leaves behind the loves of his life: his wife Kelly and four daughters, Lilly, Olivia, Emma and Riley.

A GoFundMe page, “Raise money for Uncle Chris’s family,” has been established to assist the family.