Nov. 11, 1948 – Jan. 6, 2013
James F. Rusin, the longtime athletic director for the Williamsville Central School District, died of cancer Sunday in Hospice Buffalo. He was 64.
Born in Buffalo, Mr. Rusin was a graduate of Depew High School, where he played basketball, football and baseball. He went on to play Division I baseball for the University at Buffalo, from which he eventually earned three degrees – the last was a doctorate in 1981.
During a 43-year career with the Williamsville Central School District, where he also had been a teacher and coach, he was responsible for the physical education and health programs. Mr. Rusin had been athletic director for the past 33 years.
His passions included creating athletic opportunities for students, and he was instrumental in starting many new programs, including boys and girls ice hockey, boys and girls lacrosse, and girls golf.
“Many of us in the Williamsville community were touched by Jim’s kind spirit, caring attitude and endless, boundless energy, where he always strived to make decisions that were in the best interest of the students that he served,” School Superintendent Scott Martzloff said at Tuesday’s School Board meeting, where a moment of silence was observed in Mr. Rusin’s memory.
Mr. Rusin’s other projects included writing a book, in 1982, about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs used by athletes. He served as a consultant on the issue, working with the FBI and NCAA, and traveling throughout the country to speak on ergogenic drug abuse.
More recently, he focused on the issue of head injuries and was part of a team that developed a protocol to safeguard Williamsville athletes.
Mr. Rusin taught 18 years in the graduate school at Canisius College, where he enjoyed tutoring young teachers and administrators.
He was active in youth athletic programs in the Town of Amherst, serving on the boards of the Amherst Hockey Association and Lou Gehrig Baseball, and was involved with the creation of the basketball and lacrosse associations. He also had strong ties to the soccer and girls softball programs.
Mr. Rusin was a longtime sponsor of the Amherst Avenue of Athletes program, which honors top high school athletes and adult volunteers in the town. He also served on many committees involved in the development of the Northtown Center at Amherst.
During his career, he received many professional awards, including Western New York Administrator of the Year and New York State Distinguished Physical Educator Award.
He also received a Distinguished Citizen Award from the town, was inducted into the Amherst Avenue of Athletes and received a Town Sportsmanship Award from the Amherst Chamber of Commerce.
He and his family loved to travel and recently visited China and Scotland. They also shared many good memories of stays at their homes in Sarasota and Bonita Springs, Fla., during the past 28 years.
Survivors include his wife, the former Mary Lou State; and a son, John S.
A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday in the Newman Center at the University at Buffalo’s North Campus, 495 Skinnersville Road, Amherst.