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Former Weber State basketball player, coach Gene Visscher dies at 81

By Brett Hein - Standard-Examiner | Aug 8, 2022
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In this undated photo, Gene Visscher coaches his Weber State men's basketball team in Ogden.
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In this undated photo, former Weber State men's basketball player Gene Visscher poses for a photo.

Weber State athletics Hall of Fame member Eugene “Gene” Visscher died Saturday, Aug. 6, at his Michigan home, according to his publicly posted obituary. He was 81.

Visscher is the only man in WSU’s Division I history to play basketball for the Wildcats (1964-66) and later be WSU’s head coach (1971-75).

The 6-foot-6 big man was one of the first stars of Weber State’s Division I era. After service in the Army, he returned to his Michigan hometown and played basketball at Muskegon Community College. He married his wife, Barb, and the couple moved to Ogden so Gene could continue basketball at WSU.

As a junior, Visscher averaged 18.4 points and 11.3 rebounds per game and, his senior season, he posted averages of 20.9 points and 14.3 rebounds. He was drafted in the then-expansive NBA Draft in the 19th round by the Baltimore Bullets, though he returned home to Muskegon to play basketball and start a family.

After some success as coach at Reese Puffer High School, Visscher made his way back to Ogden as an assistant coach to Phil Johnson. When Johnson took an assistant job to coach with Dick Motta and the Chicago Bulls in 1971, Visscher was named WSU’s head coach.

Visscher led WSU to two straight Big Sky titles and NCAA Tournament appearances in his first two seasons at the helm. WSU beat Hawaii in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 1972 before losing to UCLA and San Francisco.

The 1972-73 team went 20-7, including a 13-1 mark in the Big Sky, and lost in overtime to Long Beach State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Visscher resigned as head coach during the 1974-75 season. After coaching Charlotte High School in Michigan for three seasons, he later went on to be an assistant coach at Wyoming from 1978-81 and head coach at Northern Arizona from 1981-83.

Visscher returned to Charlotte, Michigan, where he became a history teacher and athletic director for the high school.

His obituary describes Visscher as an “avid outdoorsman” always up to go fishing or shooting.

Gene’s true passions were “his wife and his family,” his obituary reads. “He lived a full and fulfilled life, making numerous friends throughout his journeys.”

Those interested can share remembrances and condolences on his obituary page posted at www.prayfuneral.com/obituaries/Eugene-Visscher.

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