Naperville teacher and long-time coach Robert G. “Bob” Funston died on September 20, 2020 at the age of 86.
A Naperville resident since 1957, Funston taught at West Aurora High School, Naperville Central High School and Naperville North High School. Primarily a drivers education and physical education teacher, Funston also coached football, wrestling and badminton.
Naperville North Badminton
Even after his retirement in 1998, he could be found on the badminton courts at Naperville North, leading the program to a state title in 2012.
Heather Schild took over the program from Funston and kept him on her staff. She shared her memories with NCTV17.
“I started coaching with Bob when I was 23 years old and I coached with him in some capacity until I turned 34. He taught me the importance of asking questions about family, listening to what someone else cares about, and following up with people. He would call me every weekend to check in on how our tournaments went and ask about my family. He gave me plenty of grief when it was deserved, but ultimately he was old school in the way that he other put people first. I learned balance from Bob and that we could simultaneously compete on a high level with high expectations while also cultivating a culture of joy, jokes, and fun”
The Naperville North program has continued its dominance over the sport with four sectional titles in the years since Schild took over, though the coach gives credit to her predecessor.
Bob set the tone for badminton at North. He popularized the sport before it had much publicity and always treated the girls as the athletes they are. He used humor to motivate them and was a defacto grandpa to many of the players…and coaches! Bob came into the program as a respected coach and elevated the way that others viewed badminton. If ever someone came into the field house to watch the girls practice, he would offer them “a dollar a point” to see how they could size up against the girls in the program. He had confidence and pride in his athletes.
According to Friedrich Jone’s Funeral Homes, a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Wednesday, September 23, 2020, 10:30 AM at St. Raphael Catholic Church, 1215 Modaff Rd., Naperville.
Family and friends will meet Wednesday, 1:00 PM at Dundee Township East Cemetery, 420 Dundee Avenue, East Dundee, Illinois 60118 for graveside services.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Bob’s memory may be made to:
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105, 1-800-822-6344, www.stjude.org
The Golden Rams Fund, (supporting Cornell College Athletics), c/o Alumni Office, 600 First Street SW, Mount Vernon, IA 52314-1098, (319) 895-4248 or toll-free at (877) 683-7666, https://alumni.cornellcollege.edu/giving/golden-rams
Kevin Jackman reports for Naperville News 17
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