OCEAN SHORES — Bob Sutter, a North Beach High School coaching icon known for his upbeat personality and landmark accomplishments, died unexpectedly at his home Friday in Ocean Shores.
A North Beach coach for 40 years, Sutter was in his mid-60s.
A memorial service is scheduled for noon Thursday at the North Beach High School gym.
“This was kind of a shock for all of us,” North Beach principal and former baseball and girls basketball coach Brett Mackey said. “He was all about being a Hyak and everything about him was a Hyak.”
“It’s a loss that’s irreplaceable to our district,” North Beach alum and former school board member Mike Weidman added.
Sutter coached several sports at North Beach and attained notable success in most of them.
He guided the Hyaks to their first-ever state boys basketball berth in 1978 and also coached the state-qualifying 1984 club.
His 1984 baseball team captured a regional championship and wound up second in state. The North Beach High baseball field is named in his honor.
In 2001, he guided the Hyak girls basketball team to a fifth-place finish at state — a feat that earned him state Coach of the Year honors from the Washington Class B Report.
Sutter was also an assistant coach (serving under Bill Duncanson, who recently retired as the high school principal) on the only North Beach football team to play in the championship game. The Hyaks rode a string of upsets to the 1980 B-11 title contest in the Kingdome, where they lost to Ritzville, 13-6, on a long touchdown pass on the final play of the game.
Yet Sutter’s impact on North Beach’s sports went far beyond his won-loss record.
“His accomplishments speak for themselves, without a doubt,” Mackey said. “But the success of a good coach is not determined by his milestones but by getting kids to believe in themselves and he did that.”
“He hired me and he was like a father, a brother and a friend all wrapped into one,” said veteran North Beach boys basketball coach Larry Moore.
Although Sutter retired as a math teacher and the district’s athletic director about a decade ago, he never stopped coaching. He was a Hyak assistant in boys basketball and baseball at the time of his death and also frequently volunteered as a public address announcer, field maintenance worker in baseball and softball and timer at track meets.
“He never missed anything, he was always there,” Moore said. “Bob supported all the sports. Even after he retired from teaching, he’d come up to the school and help kids with math. He was always positive with the kids. He could be hard on the kids, but the kids knew he loved them.”
“He was a man you couldn’t keep down,” Mackey noted. “He wanted to help. He truly loved everything about the kids and the school and that’s just who he was. And he gave himself to everybody else.”
Except sometimes during the heat of battle, Sutter was seldom seen without a smile.
“He made me laugh, he always had stories,” Moore recalled. “People liked to be around him because he had stories, he was funny and he was a nice guy.”
“He was famous for all his one-line sayings,” Mackey said. “I liked to call them Sutterisms. Only one guy could pull those off and that was Bob.”
A native of Sumner who played baseball at Western Washington University, Sutter came to North Beach in 1973 (when the high school was still located in Moclips) after a tour of duty in Vietnam.
He began by coaching junior high sports before moving up to the high school level in the latter part of the decade. He was also a long-time math teacher.
“He was a great math teacher,” Weidman said. “He made sure you learned. If two or three kids were falling back, he stopped and made sure they caught up. He was a great guy and a special person.”
“His contributions went way beyond athletics,” Mackey said. “He cared about people and what they did with their lives. Athletics was just one portion of what he was. He was a picture of what a Hyak was. He was a true Hyak through and through.”