Dave Bauer, a longtime teacher, coach and administrator in Butler County, died Thursday morning at Hospice of Cincinnati in Blue Ash.
The Fairfield resident was 58 years old. He was diagnosed with kidney cancer on April 13, 2012.
“First of all, he’s too young to die. That’s a big loss for a lot of people,” said Ben Hubbard, the former football coach and athletic director at Fairfield High School (he’s now the coach at Little Miami).
“Dave was a big, gentle giant who usually had a good word for everybody. He worked hard at coaching and was a guy you could count on.”
Bauer, a 1974 Garfield High School graduate, coached boys basketball at Ross, Fairfield and Edgewood, directing the varsity at the latter two schools.
He was a junior high coach when Ross captured the Class AA state hoop title in 1980 and was also on Hubbard’s football staff as a wide receivers coach when Fairfield won the Division I championship in 1986.
“Dave’s been pretty courageous through all this,” said Steve Kessler, who coached basketball with Bauer at Fairfield in the Ron Chasteen era. “He was always a battler. He was very determined to fight this.”
Bill Stewart coached football with Bauer at FHS and was the athletic director there when Bauer was the basketball coach.
“I’ve known Dave since ’81. It’s heartbreaking,” Stewart said. “Dave’s a good guy and put up a hell of a fight. Cancer is an ugly disease.”
Bauer was the head basketball coach at Fairfield for five-plus seasons. He was elevated to the top position in January 1995, after the sudden death of Chasteen, his best friend and mentor.
“That was a very difficult situation,” said Stewart, with Bauer going 6-4 and taking the Indians to the sectional finals in the wake of Chasteen’s death. “Dave did a great job of mending some souls right there.”
Jeff Sims was on Chasteen’s staff as well and worked under Bauer after he became the head coach.
“When I think of Dave, he is Fairfield,” Sims said. “He raised his kids in Fairfield, he coached and taught here for his whole life. He did it the right way. He was a great model of being in the community and being a part of it.
“He was the absolute best at remembering names. I think it was easy for him because he just wanted to know people. It wasn’t just like, ‘What can I get from you?’ He just liked people.”
Bauer posted a 64-56 record at Fairfield and was 12-30 in two years (2000-01 and 2001-02) at Edgewood.
Stewart visited with Bauer and his wife Mindy in the hospital about three weeks ago.
“He was in good spirits,” Stewart said. “The last thing he told me was, ‘I’ll just go up and be a force in pitch with Chasteen.’
“The game is on right now. Poor Dave, he’ll never get to quit because even if he was beating Chasteen, he’d make him continue to play.”
Bauer spent the bulk of his educational career at Fairfield, but finished with a six-year stint as athletic director at Monroe. He worked for two years after receiving his cancer diagnosis, retiring last June.
“There was no doubt that Dave loved what he did,” said Jesse Catanzaro, who replaced Bauer as Monroe’s AD. “He wanted to be here. He wanted to be involved. He didn’t want to let a sickness define who he was.
“I was at Waynesville when he was still here, and to see him in our leadership conference talking to kids, that’s what he was about. I can’t say enough about his grace and strength. He knew years ago that he didn’t have long to go. His approach was he was very blessed to have the extra time.”
Bauer made an appearance at Fairfield on Feb. 20 as an honorary captain for the Tribe’s basketball game against Middletown.
He got his first teaching job in Hamilton and was inducted into the Hamilton City Schools Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006.
Bauer is survived by his wife and two children, Jay and Kelcey.
The visitation will be held at 4:30 p.m. and a service will begin at 7 p.m. on Monday at Fairfield High School’s arena.
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