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Obituaries - May 2023

May 1, 2023

Gus Linke

Clarence “Gus” Linke, 76, of Morrison, Ill., died on April 6.

By Jim Goff

Gus Linke helped shape senior softball in the Quad Cities area between Illinois and Iowa for three decades, was one of the first people elected into the area Hall of Fame, ran the Quad City Classics for decades, represented the sport internationally – and was a very good pitcher.

In senior softball, Gus was instrumental in starting the Quad Cities Senior Softball League in 1992, served as its president from 2001 to 2004, founded its Hall of Fame, and was one of the first inductees in 2006. Tournament teams he played on included the Hardy Boys, City Limits, Chicago Classics Red, Hidden Hills, Car City, and The Rock Island Line 55s team that won the SPA National Championship in 2002 in Plano, Tex.

“He was a very good pitcher,” former teammate Dan Tuftee reports, “and ran the infield very well. He would also play short stop on occasion. I rode with Gus to Plano, and he drove straight through. Don’t know how he did it. While in Plano, we were going to the ball park. Gus pulled out of the hotel parking lot and turned left. Little did he know he was turning into four lanes of oncoming traffic. I thought we were all going to die!!! He quickly found reverse and we survived and won the tournament.”

Gus also took part in Senior Softball USA goodwill tours to Europe.

He took over running the Quad Cities Classic SSUSA qualifier tournament in the late 1990s. “Gus helped grow senior softball throughout the Quad Cities area for more than 2 decades,” said Terry Hennessy, Senior Softball USA’s CEO. “In recognition of Gus’ achievements, he was recognized as SSUSA’s Tournament Director of the Year in 2009.”

Growing up in New Jersey, Gus graduated from William Penn University in Oskaloosa, Iowa,  and then accepted a job as a history teacher in Morrison, where he taught for 32 years while coaching golf, football, basketball and baseball. In 1986 he resurrected the MHS baseball program which went on to dominate their conference from 1986 until 1995. His 320 wins places him among the winningest baseball coaches in Illinois high school athletics history.

Gus subsequently served as the athletic director at MHS for 10 years. In 1995 he founded the girls’ softball program and in 2001 was named Illinois Class A Athletic Director of the Year.

Current Quad City Classic qualifier director Kenny Chard began helping Gus with the QC Classic in 2015 before assuming full responsibilities in 2018 upon Gus’ retirement. “It was such an easy transition,” Kenny says, “because Gus had built it into one of the premier tournaments in the Midwest; every year we’ve hosted 35 to 40 teams, and now in our 28th year, we still do. Gus made the Quad City Classic what it is today.”

Rich Fearn

Richard “Stitch” Fearn, 72, of San Marcos, Calif., died on March 11, 2023 due to heart failure.

Rich, or Stitch as most friends called him, played on a handful of Southern California teams over his 15 years with Senior Softball USA.

Senior Softball was more than a fun pastime for him and he often gave back to his local league, North County Senior Softball Competitive Division (NCSS-CD) out of Carlsbad. “He served as board director and player representative for ten years,” according to NCSS-CD. “He was the league’s constant cheerleader and always ready with a confidence boost and a pep talk for new or struggling players.”

He will be remembered as a long-time player with D & K Softball 65s and 70s teams, as well as a few years with Over The Edge 60s, Top Gun 65 Mavericks, and Titans 55s and 60s teams.

Kenneth R. Krogh

Kenneth Ronald Krogh, 73, of Spokane Valley, Wash., died on March 7 due to leukemia.

Ken has played with Senior Softball USA since 2011, playing with teams from Washington state and Arizona as an out-of-region player.

After schooling and several odd-jobs, Ken found a career as a Spokane police officer and eventually became a detective. In his free time, he enjoyed playing several sports. “Ken took advantage of some natural athletic skills by playing basketball at the YMCA, while also playing co-ed volleyball and softball, unknowingly laying the groundwork for what would later be recognized as a Spokane Hall of Fame softball career,” according to his lighthearted online obituary.

He will be remembered for playing with White Elephant Shores 60s (WA), Sidewinders 55s (AZ), Northwest Silver 65s (WA), and Brunettes (Brunettes/Spikes) 70s (WA).

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