In Memory

C Wayne Courtney (Coach)

C. Wayne Courtney, 88; he was Roosevelt coach, Edina mayor

C. Wayne Courtney, 88; he was Roosevelt coach, Edina mayor

Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis, MN) - Wednesday, July 2, 1997

Fans and players had a longtime love-hate relationship with C. Wayne Courtney, boys' basketball coach at Minneapolis Roosevelt High School.

Not just because his teams won state championships in 1956 and 1957 and were one of the most feared during his 20-year tenure, but for his pugnacious demeanor on the sideline. He was a little guy who grabbed jerseys and got in players' faces. He never cursed. Instead he used what one former player described as "a look that would turn you to stone."

He also was a City Council member in Edina and mayor from 1966 to 1988, during the city's growth period. Courtney, of Edina, died Monday at Park Health and Rehabilitation Center in St. Louis Park. He was 88.

Courtney once told a newspaper reporter, "Many people will tell you I'm the meanest coach in the city, but I have more players come back to see me after they graduate than anybody else."

When his Teddies played at the Minneapolis Auditorium on Fridays, fans came in droves to heckle the immaculately dressed coach. Paul Reinboldt, captain of the 1953 team, said Courtney was a class act and a winner, but "Oh, man, he was tough as nails."

Reinboldt recalled how the coach "trained" him to stop dribbling the ball during games. He recalled that once, after a rebound, he had to bring the ball upcourt. As he dribbled upcourt, Reinboldt looked at Courtney and saw fingers unfolding. Each dribble, one finger, five laps around the gym.

Courtney, who taught social studies, compiled a 270-78 record at Roosevelt, winning seven Minneapolis City Conference, five district and three regional titles. He also coached golf from 1958 to 1968, winning three state championships and seven consecutive city titles. His coaching career at Roosevelt came to an end when he became an assistant principal at Washburn High School.

Public relations executive Dave Mona, who was a member of the Roosevelt team that was kicked out of the 1961 tournament after two players were declared ineligible, said Courtney's speech at the basketball banquet that year made an impact on him.

"He said how it was such a terrible disappointment," he said. "But if you could get through this, you could survive anything."

Because Roosevelt was the biggest high school in the state, its games often outdrew the Minneapolis Lakers. Mona talked about how players would do anything to be the last one to the huddle following a timeout because "he would remember if you lost your man on a pick seven minutes earlier."

Courtney's son Richard said his father enjoyed working with children. Richard said his father was an achiever, no matter what career he picked out. He ran the Morningside and Edina Little League program for 20 years, which helped him win his first election for a seat on the Morningside Village Council in 1962. Morningside merged with Edina in the middle '60s.

He served on the Edina City Council from 1966 to 1980 and was mayor from 1980 to 1988. He was instrumental in the redevelopment of the commercial district at 50th St. and France Av. S., reestablishment of the volunteer fire department and development of the historical society. His son said he also was an advocate for the parks and recreation system and for low- and moderate-income housing.

City Manager Ken Rosland said Courtney had deep pride in his community. "He was tough on the outside, but a marshmallow inside," he said.

Courtney helped form the Southwest Suburban Cable Commission and had been the host of a cable access talk show since 1972. He was cochairman of the Hennepin County Criminal Justice Council and vice chairman of the Metropolitan Waste Control Commission. In 1987 he received the Minnesota League of Municipalities' C.C. Ludwig Award, which recognizes outstanding work by an official.

He played football, basketball and baseball at Edison High School in Minneapolis. He earned a bachelor's degree from what is now Mankato State University and a master's degree from the University of Minnesota. Before coming to Roosevelt, he coached and taught at Mapleton (Minn.) High School and Lincoln Junior High School in Minneapolis. He was the assistant principal at Nokomis Junior High School in Minneapolis for two years before his 1974 retirement.

Besides his son Richard, of Edina, Courtney is survived by sons Michael, of Scarsdale, N.Y., and Thomas, of Oakland, Calif., and a sister, Clara Shields, of Billings, Mont.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 2914 W. 44th St., Minneapolis, with visitation there at 10.

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Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis, MN) - Wednesday, July 2, 1997


Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities () , obit for C. Wayne Courtney, 88; he was Roosevelt coach, Edina mayor, ( : accessed 11 July 2022)

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07/11/22 07:36 AM #1    

Bradley W. Sherman

Bruce -  Thanks for sharing this!  
Jay Weaver and I worked for Wayne Courtney, who ran Edina youth baseball, during our summers of high school and into our first couple of years in college.  We started as "field captains" taking care of the Weber Park fields, chalking, raking and coaching/umpiring Little League "minors" games.  Eventually Jay and I became umpires for the Little League "major" games all over Edina.  10-12 year old boys, in full uniforms with their parents in the stands keeping the umps in line.  We would talk with Mr. Courtney almost everyday.   He went from being a task master to the guy who always had our backs, especially when coaches would get out of line.  We went from fearing him to revering him.  We visited him at his home in Morningside well into our 20s.  Wayne Courtney molded us from boys to men.  Forever grateful having him in our lives.  

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