Paul L. Schrauth, a popular coach and sports figure in the Town of Eden, died Wednesday after collapsing while playing in a charity golf tournament. He was 46.
Mr. Schrauth coached baseball and softball in the Eden Athletic Association, was a head coach in Eden Little Loop Football and coached basketball for the Eden Recreation Department.
"He took coaching sports as seriously as Vince Lombardi did," said Bob Beckett, his brother-in-law. "He wanted them to work on the basics, the rules, the sportsmanship, their self-confidence."
He also was known for delivering that message with a sense of humor, whether starting his first football practice at its most basic -- "This is a football" -- or disarming the most intense coaches with a quick one-liner.
Mr. Schrauth was born in Herkimer and moved to Hamburg as a child. He graduated in 1976 from Hamburg High School, where he played football, basketball and baseball.
After attending college briefly, he worked at Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. for the past 25 years, rising through the ranks to relay tester.
Mr. Schrauth enjoyed woodworking, doing home improvements and landscaping, his family said. When something broke, he would make it his mission to make it work again.
He played both electric and acoustic guitar and loved music. Another brother-in-law, Gary Beckett, recalled a recent evening when he and Mr. Schrauth "lost themselves in a double CD of Pink Floyd, turning the music up loud . . . until the kids finally came up to tell us to turn it down. How often does that happen? It was a true Paul moment."
But it was in sports that the community got to know him, on the football field, where he could break the ice at a tense moment with a quip taken from a funny movie, or on the softball field, where he would be encouraging a girl to be aggressive and take her cuts at the ball instead of praying for a walk.
"Paul's feeling was always that the kids should have fun participating in athletics," said Frank Nicotra, a member of the Eden Recreation Board and a friend of Mr. Schrauth. "We always talked about, 'Let's not put too much pressure on the kids, let the kids have the fun and enjoy the camaraderie of the sport.' He had a knack for getting kids to gain the self-confidence."
Survivors include his wife, the former Sandra Beckett; two daughters, Amanda and Marissa, and a son, Colby, all of Eden; his mother, Joan of Hamburg; four brothers, Peter of Elmira, Andrew of Fredonia, Matt of Phoenix and Tom of Galena, Mo.; and three sisters, Joan of Brookeville, Md., Rosemary Gale of Gaithersburg, Md., and Catherine of Hamburg.
Services will be at 7 p.m. Saturday in Eden United Methodist Church, 2820 E. Church St.