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February 12, 2014

A basketball life well lived

(Continued)

The one thing I never did see, was Bill as a coach. However, I was told very early in my time in Washington that Bill’s 1969 ND team was one of the area’s best ever. Steve Fisher who played for Bill that year, said fairness was Bill’s most important trait as a coach.

“He was always fair. He had such a big responsibility that first year, because he was bringing four communities together,” said Fisher. “He had to be fair to make it work.”

As much as Fisher respected Slatton as a coach, it was as a person that he made the biggest impact.

“When my father passed in 1983, Bill became like a father to me. I can tell you that there has rarely been a decision in my life since then that Bill hasn’t helped me with.”

I think what I enjoyed most was Bill’s sense of humor and gregarious nature. Always quick with a joke or a needle, just seeing Bill and his lovely wife Marilyn in passing were often some of my best encounters of the day.

Bill loved golf and I think the last time I saw him at the course was at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame outing at Country Oaks last year. Bill was truly in his element, holding court with the people whom he shared a lifetime love of basketball. There was a special bond between Bill and those coaches he lived and laughed with.

I think that is the way I want to remember Bill, with a big straw hat on, leaned up against a golf cart, sharing a laugh with Joe Todrank, telling stories about his battles with Loogootee, Barr-Reeve, Odon and Plainville.

Bill will be missed by those who knew him - I miss him already.

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