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Remembering Bill Sword.

Before you read further, click on this picture. It was taken two seasons ago at the buzzer after Princeton defeated Harvard 54-51. Many of you are in it.

In the stands to your left of Will Barrett and to your right of assistant coach Tony Newsom, clapping with both hands while wearing a light blue shirt, stands Bill Sword '76.

Bill died during Hurricane Sandy on Monday night at the age of 61 when a tree in his yard fell on him.

If you sat behind the bench at Jadwin Gym, you might not have known Bill personally, but you certainly knew his voice.

When I told my wife with disbelief on Tuesday morning "Bill Sword died!" nothing registered.

When I said "the 'YOU'RE MONEY, WILL!' man died!" she joined my shock and sadness.

Bill seemed to arrive habitually late to games in a rush to reach his seat while still well-dressed from work, usually around the first media time out. Once he was seated he immediately made up for lost time.

The sections behind the Princeton team are a faithful yet traditionally quiet bunch with few exceptions.

One of those exceptions was Bill.

His support of specific Tigers (like Will Venable, who I referenced above) and playful derision of certain members of the opposition (he took particular glee in how Princeton shut down Zack Rosen and kept the Quakers from a share of last year's Ivy title) always cut through the air and found my ears.

If they could reach backwards 8-10 rows, I'm sure his words found their intended targets on the court more than a few times.

Jadwin Gym will be a less fun, less-spirited place without Bill Sword.

When he renewed his site subscription just last week, I wrote Bill a note of appreciation for his continued support of what I do. His response was a short one, but included the following:

"highlight of the year is re-upping and getting season tickets!"

I'm so very sorry he won't be able to use those tickets this season. Whomever fills Bill's bleacher seat in future years will be hard-pressed to match his passion and level of caring when it comes to Princeton basketball.

He will be missed.

My condolences to his wife Martha and his three children.

Lanny Jones said,

November 1, 2012 @ 11:24 am

Thanks, Jon, for this heartfelt tribute, which will mean a lot to anyone who knew Bill.

George Clark said,

November 1, 2012 @ 11:45 am

This news brings sadness to all of us fortunate to share membership in the Princeton basketball comunity.

Maureen Pedersen said,

November 1, 2012 @ 12:02 pm

Such sad news. He was a very,very nice man.

John Poole said,

November 1, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

I am sorry that I never met him. As a 'louder than normal' Princeton Basketball fan myself, I always like to find another vocally enthusiastic fan to sit with. Jadwin can be funereal at times with its polite silence or hand applause. I can only get up to games 2 or 3 times a year, but I'll always be on the lookout for another Bill Sword to enjoy the game with. RIP, Bill. We will all be pulling for the Tigers in your absence.

Bob Ruxin said,

November 1, 2012 @ 3:47 pm

Thanks Jon for a tribute that would mean so much to our classmate, Bill. [Jon is H'76 in recognition of his service to the Princeton basketball community. This is only the latest example.]

Jon Solomon said,

November 1, 2012 @ 8:32 pm

Thank you, Bob. I only wish I could remember more of my favorite things I heard Bill exclaim during games. He would also turn back to look at my and ask questions from time to time during breaks in the action, which I was quite happy to answer.


Jon Solomon said,

November 1, 2012 @ 8:33 pm

From another site:

"A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, November 3rd at the Nassau Presbyterian Church, 61 Nassau Street, in Princeton, NJ. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad, Centurion Ministries or the Princeton Community Foundation."

David Lewis said,

November 1, 2012 @ 11:37 pm

Princeton basketball games will never be the same without Bill. I worked down the hall from him and we talked reguarly about family, current events, our golf games and, most importantly, Princeton basketball. I sat with him at games many times and it amazed me how this seemingly mild mannered man turned into a crazed lunatic after the opening tip. He always supported Princeton players but constantly hounded the refs (in a humorous way) when calls went against the Tigers. e.g. - "Hey ref that was a terrible call. Go back to Sports Locker where you belong"; "Hey ref, I got an extra pair of glasses right here." He also had visceral dislike for Penn guard, Zack Rosen. He heckled him constantly, even at the Palestra. Sometimes I cringed but I always laughed at the same time. Bill was by far the most enthusiastic Princeton basketball fan in the building every night and made the games fun. As great as he was as a fan, however, he was a better man. He was always positive about life, was a devoted husband and father, lived every day to the fullest and was always looking for ways to help people in need. I am in shock right now and deeply saddened, but will always appreciate that I knew Bill and was able to call him my friend.

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