Warrior is honored

TO THE EDITOR: Willsboro received sad news that one of its most famous Warriors passed away, Arnie Stoker.

In fact, I think he was the Willsboro Warrior. For those too young to know, Arnie was much more than a skinny, hobbling old man with a cane and Coke bottle glasses. For decades he was a fixture at WCS sporting events and a custodian. If there was a game, he was there. Helping with water, first aid, equipment, whatever was needed.

Especially basketball. He’d dress up in his best duds, his red sport jacket, and be a solid assistant to his idol, Athletic Director/Coach Scorsome.

Many were fooled by his thick glasses, his stiff-jointed movement, and his difficult to understand speech, but within that body was the heart of a champion, unrecognized athletic ability, and the faithfulness of a Labrador retriever.

He was destined for a challenging life when his mother contracted German measles during pregnancy. That is what made Arnie, Arnie, the man who loved WCS, its sports, and all of the people associated with it.

Notwithstanding his physical limitations, I personally witnessed his latent athleticism while working summers as an WCS janitor. An able-bodied co-worker, a future area elected official, challenged Arnie to a one-on-one basketball game for $5. Arnie accepted.

The youngster was quite surprised when that funny-talking, stiff-jointed fellow with thick glasses sank his first three shots from outside and surged ahead. The future public official’s pride/money was on the line, so he got physical. He worked inside and used his body, shaken that his presumably slam dunk victory wasn’t happening. Arnie could not compete with the larger, younger man’s physicality, but he never complained. In the end, he handed over the $5 without a peep. True sportsmanship.

That is why Arnie Stoker was, and always will be, the Willsboro Warrior.

DOUGLAS FERRIS

Willsboro

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