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Family, friends remember Edison's Dan Wiley
The Sunday evening memorial for Dan Wiley was suitably held in the Edison High gymnasium, with flowers, pictures, candles, trophies and memorials strewn end-to-end like a touching fast break.
The Edison High girl’s basketball coach, 61, died suddenly Oct. 26, and a gathering of family, friends, former and current players and associates numbering upward of 400 came to remember his exuberant life.
“I’m sure Dan is looking down at this packed audience and saying ‘Yeah, baby,’” his sister, Dr. Deborah Wiley, who steered the service and gave a touching eulogy, said in her opening remarks.
While basketball was the touchstone for most people there, the details of it – 151 wins in seven seasons at Edison, part of two CIF title teams, his many successful years as an AAU club coach in Orange County – took a backseat to those who wanted to talk more about the man than the coach.
“Dan had the best laugh ever,” Edison athletic director Royce Boyce said. “He was always laughing and smiling. On a scale of 1 to 100 on being liked, Dan was probably a 104.
“His true legacy is the way he lived. He had a tremendous compassion for everyone, and I loved the way (his kids) loved him back. I want to do justice and make sure people know how wonderful he was. But I don’t really have to, because you’re all here.”
In addition to the comments from his sister, his daughters, Meghan and Kerry, spoke, as did their mother, Karen Wiley, and former players Veronica Johns-Richardson and Geena Gomez.
“He was a father, husband, brother, coach, chef, alarm clock and the best shoulder to cry on,” said Meghan Wiley, who spoke warmly through tears to tell a few funny stories.
“He was the type of dad who made sure you had enough toilet paper to T.P. three houses even if we needed just enough for one,” she said, “and then tell us to make sure to take a lap to come back and look at the carnage.”
Johns-Richardson, who played for his AAU programs, was a standout at Troy High when Wiley was an assistant and went on to star at Colorado, told of the way Wiley became a surrogate father in her life.
“People say he made such a great impact on women’s basketball,” she said. “For me, I was raised by a single mom, and he was my papa bear from the time I was 10 to 18. I was an angry adolescent, and we had many long talks. He never gave up on me even when I wanted to give up on myself.
“On senior night at Troy, I went on the court with my mom and there sisters on one side and Dan and his daughters on the other,” she said. “They were all my family. I hope I can make a difference some day for a student or an athlete as Dan did for me.”
Wiley, a confectionary salesman when he wasn’t being a dad and coach, was a successful AAU coach with the Fullerton Sharks and later Cal Swish. He was an assistant at Troy for several years and was hired at Edison for his first prep head coaching job for the 2008-09 season.
Wiley had an immediate impact. The Chargers went 25-6, 24-6 and 28-4 his first three seasons, advancing to the CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA finals his first season, the semifinals the next, and then winning the CIF Division 1A title in 2010-11.
Russ Davis was a colleague with his AAU teams and one of his closest friends.
“He was a lover of life,” Davis said, “and he helped kids reach their potential. He made an impact on a lot of young lives.”
“The true legacy of Wiley is the way he lived,” Boyce said. “If you want to do something for the memory of Dan, do what he did: Do something for someone else, love dearly, and care way too much.”
Wiley is survived by his wife, Julie; daughters Meghan and Kerry; granddaughter Paige Ray; and sister Deborah.
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