Remembering Paul Lane

Last month, Paul Lane had a seat of honor at the dedication of Staples High School’s Laddie Lawrence Track.

Lane spent nearly 30 years as a Staples coach and physical education instructor. Though best known for his football teams — including a powerhouse 1967 FCIAC champion squad, and 1975 state champs — he was also a noted track coach.

In fact, he coached a young Laddie Lawrence. The dedication last month spurred a drive to name Staples’ football stadium for Paul Lane.

Town boards will make the decision soon. But now the honor is posthumous. Lane died this afternoon. He had been in good health, until a recent fall. He was 93 years old.

Paul Lane, by the Staples High School football trophy case.

Naming the field should be a slam dunk.

Between 1962 and 1987 Lane led the Wreckers to 4 FCIAC Eastern Division championships, 2 FCIAC crowns, and 122 victories. His 11-0 1975 squad was the last single state champion — determined by sportswriters — before the current playoff system began.

In the 1967 FCIAC title game, Staples snapped Stamford Catholic’s 30-game win streak, 8-0. The Crusaders — ranked #1 in Connecticut – had outscored their opponents 333-66. The Wreckers stopped them twice on the goal line, in the last quarter.

Paul Lane at a 2016 Staples High School football game. He is flanked by his sons Peter and Skip. Both played for him as Wreckers.

Lane started coaching football in the Army in 1950. He then served as an assistant to Frank Dornfeld for 8 years, before taking over the top job.

At Staples, Lane also won state championships coaching indoor and outdoor track — and girls golf.

He grew up in Bethel, but his family has long ties to Westport. He was a Compo Beach resident nearly all his adult life. Former players — and of course his sons Skip and Peter, both of whom played for him — often dropped by to chat with their former coach.

He entertained them — and anyone else who passed by — with a constant stream of stories. Lane remembered every game, every athlete, and every bit of Westport history.

Service arrangements are incomplete. Arrangements for the naming of “Paul Lane Field” will begin soon.

The Staples High School football field may soon be named for Paul Lane.

53 responses to “Remembering Paul Lane

  1. Truly a sad day for Staples, Westport, and Lane Family… and a celebration of life… RIP coach.. will always nod and wave as I pass the beach home

  2. Charlie Taylor

    This is what happens when people, who should no better, sit on their hands. God Bless and Rest Coach Lane. I played for him in ‘58-‘59- 1960 as a long snapper !

  3. Jim and Julia Hood

    Coach was a dear friend and neighbor of ours for almost 25 years. We will miss him so much. There is an old saying about how we are fortunate to have four or five truly close friends at the end of our journey; Coach probably has 500. A lesson for the ages. Rest in peace, my/our friend.

  4. Lovely man, so kind, always a smile and wave.
    His life well lived and loved by so many. He was indeed a wonderful man. Heartfelt sympathy to his family.
    R.I.P

  5. Coach Lane touched so many lives. Thanks for the memories.

  6. Andrew Colabella

    I first met coach when I was 13 years old, riding my bike passed his house everyday to and from the beach multiple times a day. He would always wave back and tell us to be safe. Occasionally, telling us to stop jumping off the wall with the bikes, and to use our heads which should have helmets on them. He was right. And could never offend us.

    That bicycle eventually was replaced by a car. Everyday driving home, I would take the scenic route. Certain people would be seen on the way in the same spot and same time…Paul was one of them. Fast forward to the last couple of years, he was the only person left I would see everyday.

    Occasionally I was lucky enough to sit on the wall and talk to him about his career in Westport and Europe. His role serving the US military, stories about the town and even politicking with me about Westport. Whenever I saw him walking or at the house, like clock work, we would wave to each other or talk. He is Westport’s GOAT (Greatest Of All Time).

    Paul Lane is a staple in our community and staple to Staples. His gift and talent to teach was irreplaceable, incomparable, unique, and family oriented. He was a father to kids on the field, away from home, and for those who didn’t have dads. Paul Lane would become a father figure to Laddie Lawrence, discovering his gift and talent, to a full athletic scholarship and eventually finding his way back to Staples to teach.

    Paul Lane will now live on through the generations of children he taught and impacted that are now adults fulfilling the American Dream he lived. Paul Lane raised four kids and was the grandfather to ten grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren.

    Thousands of people knew him or met him. He impacted everyone’s life in a positive way. He always knew the right thing to say, could do no harm. His life blossomed like his garden he meticulously took care of.

    Thank you for the stone wall talks and soundview walks. I’ll miss you and I’ll never forget you.

  7. Paul was an amazing coach who inspired so many of us to love football and to play with all our passion. May he always be remembered for the gifts he gave to us and to the town he loved so much.

  8. I saw him day before yesterday out in front of his house.. A lovely gentleman . A hero for all time. He will be missed by Westport.

  9. Barbara Sherburne '67

    I did not know Paul Lane, but I have been following the discussion about naming the football stadium for him. And when I saw the Subject line in my inbox, I was like, No. This can’t be true. No, no, no. He was supposed to be honored while he was still alive. My condolences to his family and his many loyal friends. Rest in peace, Coach Lane.

  10. Dorothy Giannone

    Such sad news. He was a hero to all, a genuine gentleman and will be sadly missed.

  11. From the age of five, my son Cameron Manna grew up at the beach playing in front of Coach’s home. This year, at the age of 18, he was honored to receive the Paul Lane award for Staples Football. Life came full circle. Rest In Peace Coach. ❤️

  12. This is a sudden loss, and we’ll all miss his stabilizing influence on our hormones-even those of us who did not play for him and Staples. He was always ready with a smile for us all.

    • Joe Wilkinson

      RIP Coach Lane- I played in the 70’s for him & will always remember Coach as a great leader & mentor. As is the case with all his former players- he was always a blessing to say hi to on our Compo walks. My best memory is him catching me & my now wife on the tennis courts making out @ Staples in 1975- fast forward 45 years- he stopped us on our walk & reminded us of that- what an incredible mind- Our condolences to the family- he will be missed 😢

  13. Tom feeley sr

    RIP COACH🇺🇸
    💕Janet Skip Peter 💕

  14. I am both shocked and saddened to hear about Coach Lane’s passing. I feel fortunate to have had him as my head football coach at Staples. I can not tell you how much I enjoyed playing for him. Being on the 1975 state championship football team under his leadership is something I will never forget. My sincere condolences to the Lane Family. He was a great man.

  15. Wow….so sad to hear that our beloved coach has died. Here’s hoping the town and school officials recognize the impact he had on so many young students, and name the field after him. No one deserves this honor more.

    I played football at Staples in 1958, 59, and 60, and learned endless life lessons from him. He was the best coach I ever had. He worked so hard with our mediocre teams….never letting us lose confidence even when we were obviously a pretty weak team. I’ve carried the lessons I learned from Paul with me my whole life.

    May he rest in peace.
    .

  16. I am very sad. God bless you Coach Lane.

  17. Coach lane taught generations of us so much. He taught me I was good at tennis, as my father and Paul used to play together at our har-tru court on Cob Drive. I used to watch them play, on my weekends in from the city. Once, when my dad had to leave the court to take a call, Coach asked me to step in for him. At that time, I didn’t play tennis. My father was good at alot of things but he was not good at coaching. All 3 childen shuddered at our collective memories of his teaching us. I reluctantly walked onto that court that day, ready to embarrass myself in front of an athletic legend. In the few minutes we hit together, it was filled with surprise “WOW’s” and “OMG that was a great shot.” “You got talent Liz, you’re a natural just like your dad”. I started playing tennis after I walked off the court that day and it is a sport that still love today. Coach taught me that I had talent and a gift. I expect that he did that for many lucky thousands of kids and adults in Westport.

    Thank you Coach lane, i am very sad. I will miss you alot. So much love.

    Liz

  18. Steve Doig ‘66

    Rest In peace, Coach. I can honestly say that the habits developed and the values embraced in my few years of working to meet his expectations as my coach are major reasons for my successes in life.

  19. Coach Lane was a gentleman. He never swore or grabbed guys by their helmets. He didn’t have to, we knew he meant business. In quite moments I can still he say……”Jonesy you stink, now run it again”!

  20. Coach, as many of us knew him had a wonderful impact on a great number of lives. My condolences to his family, Janet, Skip, Peter and his entire extended family. Coach was a wonderful, fun and funny, engaging person, always willing to stop and talk as you passed by his home. We will all miss him.

  21. Shannon Wolfe

    I’m saddened to hear the loss of Paul Lane to Westport.

    Me and my husband would always enjoy his conversations on Soundview surrounded by his garden.

    I’m so happy to see the petition to get the field named after him with such large support. I would like to commemorate the friends of Paul Lane & Andrew Colabella for making this happen.

    Our kids were not coached by Paul, but can only imagine the large impact Paul had on everyone.

  22. Theodore Gaylor

    A few years ago I was driving down Soundview Drive trying to acquaint myself with the beach area of Westport and perhaps look for a summer home or rental. My daughter, son-in-law and 2 grand boys had just moved to Westport. As I drove along the beach I noticed a gentleman sitting on his front porch and so I approached him to question him about housing opportunities. He not only offered to help me but promptly got in my car and proceeded to give me a tour of the entire Compo beach enclave as though was an experienced realtor. After an hour of touring and telling me stories I asked him what realty firm he had worked for. To my surprise he promptly said, “Son, I’m not a realtor, I’m a coach”. Truly he was a kind gentleman! Coach will always have a warm place in mine and my families heart. May he Rest In Peace. He certainly will not be forgotten.

  23. Arline Gertzoff

    An incredible legacy.Naming the field in his honor should be by proclamation.Rest in peace

  24. Coach Lane was a terrific football coach and and even greater person. His custom of inviting players to his house, or just welcoming them in or to sit on the porch when we “popped” in to see him, was extraordinary. He loved talking football and sports and life in general. He was happy and engaging, with a terrific sense of humor, and always welcoming and ready with a funny story or tidbit of wry wisdom. R.I.P., Coach!

  25. Carl Addison Swanson

    What a wonderful and nice man. He was my Little League cap league coach in 1956 and his wife, my second grade teacher at Coleytown (Ms. Small). More recently, I used to sit up on the parking lot (near Bedford Middle) and watch the Staples football games with the man. What an amazing memory he had regarding his teams, players and even some students. I am told his 1964 football team (where his entire backfield went Division I including a West Pointer and Syracuse) called him every Christmas Eve to wish him well. Truly, a Westport icon and only fitting his field of dreams carry his name.

  26. John B. Gould

    I was deeply honored to be chosen by Coach’s beautiful children to play piano for his retirement party in the ballroom at Longshore, some years ago.
    When opening some gifts on stage, I told him that one of them was an autographed photo of Albie Loeffler! Well – we did have a giggle over that!
    And whenever cruising past Coach’s house, after playing a gig at Longshore with my band, or clattering by in my tree surgeon’s truck, maybe after pruning the Maple tree on Soundview for one of his neighbors, the lovely Tony Cunningham, I would always get a beaming, smiling wave of recognition from him, acknowledging our friendship that lifted me up, made me feel important and proud to be a Westporter. Thanks Coach! I’ll never forget you or your wonderful family. I never played football, but I know one thing. There’s going to be one hell of a team up there in Heaven!

  27. Gerald Kuroghlian

    Paul Lane will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him. I was privileged to work with him at Staples, attend his games and be invited to pat and Paul’s marvelous parties. He was a true “coach” for hundreds of young men as he was as interested in building character as he was in building a team. May he rest in peace.

  28. Deepest sympathies to Janet, Peter and Skip – our entire family’s thoughts are with you.

    I had a bit of a stumble in high school (OK, I got arrested) and Coach Lane was one of the people that picked me up, brushed me off, put me back on the football team, and helped me to point my life in the right direction. I will forever be grateful.

  29. Michael Calise

    Paul was truly an inspiring Gentleman of the highest order. My condolences to his entire family

  30. Robert Giunta

    I will miss seeing Paul almost everyday when he was out walking . I was a young wise ass paul gave me a kick and he pointed in the correct direction HE WILL BE MISSED my condolences to his family.

  31. Thoughts with Skip, Janet, Peter, and Kristin – The legend of Coach will live on…He was my father’s football coach, mother’s track coach and driving instructor (stop off at my grandmother’s for lunch during driving lesson!) most importantly a friend of our family and many others in our community. Thank you to the Lane family for sharing Coach with us and allowing him to positively impact so many lives. Thank you Coach..

  32. Talk about a life well-lived. He will be missed by hundreds (thousands?) of us who hold Westport, and Staples, close to our hearts. Best to the family.

  33. Benton B. Cummings

    Fond memories of our good fortune to have Paul as both a football and basketball coach in the 1950’s. Great coaching and teaching skills conveyed with the constant Lane smile. He presided over major hijinks from our cohort and we learned much more than a sport from Paul. Hope the town will find a way to memorialize Paul’s impact on Staples. Staples. Class of ’57.

  34. Rest in Peace Coach. Your family and community will miss you dearly.
    The naming of the football field is a fitting tribute to a man who gave back so much to the Staples community. It will allow future Wreckers to know the legacy of Coach Lane, much like my daughters learned about Ginny Parker while playing field hockey and lacrosse on “her” field.
    Let’s make this happen!

    • Patricia McMahon

      When my husband Matthew sent me a text to look at Dan’s site immediately this was the last thing i never would’ve thought i would see posted, as i just saw Coach Lane looking strong and walking along Soundview drive the other day .

      We live right around the corner from Mr.Lane and saw him daily enjoying his spectacular Compo beach view and watching the birds he fed daily on his property.
      He seemed to have lived a life full of love, appreciation , gratitude , humor and kindness . How we should all spend our existence .
      My deepest and sincere condolences to The Lane Family.
      I’m going to miss him terribly .

  35. Lauren Perlis Ambler

    I’ll sure miss waving and saying “Hi Coach” during my Compo walks these many decades. What a dear and gentle man. My sympathies to his beautiful family, he was a lucky guy and he cherished them all! xo

  36. Michael A. Rea

    My condolences to the family & friends of the Lane family.
    A special part of Westport & youth athletics has just passed. Coach you will always be remembered.

  37. Very sad news indeed ,, The world lost a Wonderful Man .. My condolences to the Lane Family .. Rest Easy Coach “”

  38. A true legend. Sending love to Skip, Janet, Pete & Kristen.

  39. Cookie Yordon

    Sending sympathy to his family. His memory will live on in the hearts of Westporters forever.

  40. You guys are terrific and yes he was all of that, thank you and that’s who he was 24/7 God Bless !!

  41. I was lucky enough to be coached by Coach Lane in football and track. He is the reason I wanted to become a coach. All these years later I am still trying to be like Coach Lane.
    Paul McNulty

  42. My husband BIG RED surely welcomed him with a BIG hug and smile … our love to all his loved ones.

  43. My family moved from NYC to Westport when I was 15. Gym class in the Bronx was limited to schoolyard sports and Westport’s suburban sports were challenging for me – never much of a sporty-gal. So I was NOT good at tennis — but I did like raking leaves. It was autumn and the courts were full of them and Coach Lane agreed I could rake while the others played. I can still remember my report card with his handwritten “Leaf raking” and the best grade. He was a good guy.

  44. Coach Lane was a wonderful, inspirational coach who, through his leadership by example, passed on important lessons regarding hard work, dedication, commitment, honesty and integrity that have helped guide me — and numerous others — through life. My heart and thoughts go out to he and his family.

  45. I was a staples grad of ’77. Coach Lane was a patient in the pharmacy I worked at for over 17 years. I always addressed him as “coach” and he always beamed at me! It was, who he was! To all of us long term Westporters!! He was the best loving, kindest human being.. never mind his coaching abilities. My condolences to the Lane family for such a loss.

  46. Coach Lane was a terrific coach, mentor, and a great example of class. All three Albertson boys, Nick, Tom, and Jim send their condolences to the Lane family. We will always remember Coach Lane with gratitude for all he taught us.
    A life well lived Coach. RIP

  47. Susan Pauline Kelly

    Love to all the Lanes, especially Janet, Skip, Peter, and Christine.
    Sent with Much Love,
    From all the Kellys

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