Sports friends, veterans recall ‘Coach’ Waldron
SARATOGA SPRINGS Raymond A. “Coach” Waldron was remembered Sunday as an outstanding community leader, volunteer and advocate. The 80-year-old veteran, who had been employed by the Saratoga Springs City School district for nearly 40 years, died Friday at his home.
Waldron worked for Saratoga Schools from 1958 through 1996 as a physical education teacher and later as an athletic director. He also coached a variety of sports during his tenure.
Waldron took a leadership role in many sports organizations. He was the founder of the Saratoga Springs Pop Warner Football program and a 20-year chairman of Boys State. He directed Saratoga’s Punt, Pass and Kick program and the Elks Hoop Shoot and served as chairman of Biddy Basketball for 10 years.
Brenda Adams, who was hired by Waldron in 1987 as a field hockey coach, remembers him as a staunch advocate for women’s athletics, and an employer who believed in his coaches.
“He’d go to bat for you and he was always on your side through thick and thin,” she said, of the lifelong Saratoga County resident.
In recognition of his dedication to the athletic community, in 1988 Waldron was named New York State Athletic Director of the Year and in 1990, Capital District Athletic Director of the Year. He was the first inductee into the Saratoga Springs High School Hall of Fame in 2009, was named man of the year by the Capital District Wrestling Officials Association in 1992 and was an honorary life member of that association.
Before his career in physical education, Waldron served as an infantryman in the U.S. Army and fought in the Korean War. Later in life, he was member of the Gurtler Bros. VFW Post 420 and the American Legion Adirondack Post 70. He was also a 53-year member and past exalted ruler of the Saratoga-Wilton Elks Lodge 161. His most recent leadership position was commander of the Adirondack Chapter 60 of the Korean War Veterans.
Bill Shaw replaces Waldron as commander of the Korean War Veterans chapter. He reminisced about when Waldron first joined the organization.
“[He] immediately became very active and very well liked and obviously rose to be commander for probably longer than anybody else has and he’s done a tremendous job of it. We’re really going to miss him,” he said.
Gene Ratigliano, quartermaster for the Gurtler Bros. post, agreed that Waldron will be missed.
He described him as “the most personable individual you could ever know. He was ready to help anybody any time and it didn’t matter what it was for.”
Lincoln Orologio, a fellow member of both the VFW and American Legion posts, said, “He was a very good commander and was a very good friend and people in Saratoga really enjoyed him and thought he was a good man. We hate to see him pass away.”
Outside of athletics, Waldron served as a Republican committeeman in Saratoga County.
Saratoga Springs resident and fellow veteran Gene Corsale remembers Waldron as a man dedicated to bettering the community.
“Ray was a great individual and one of the icons of our city. We’ve got plenty of icons in our city, but he was one of the more outstanding ones,” he said, “He did a lot for the young community and he did a lot for the educational system.”
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. Clement’s Church, 231 Lake Ave. Interment with military honors will be conducted at noon Tuesday at the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery.
Members of the Korean War Veterans will meet at 4 p.m. today at the funeral home and members of Saratoga-Wilton Elks will meet there at 6:30 p.m. for services.