The Egling Middle School gymnasium was dedicated last Wednesday to Colusa alumnus, educator and coach, Leland “Dale” Townzen.
The remodeled gymnasium, funded by a 2014 school bond, has been named Dale Townzen Court. Townzen taught in Colusa Unified School District for 40 years, and continued to coach athletics and tutor students a decade after he retired in 1999. He was known for building confidence and character in young people, officials said. Townzen died in 2014, at the age of 77.
“Mr. Dale Townzen lived a life reflecting the best of an educator’s spirit,” Colusa Unified School District Superintendent Dwayne Newman said. “He put his family, students, and community first, and gave countless hours to those priorities. As a parent and an educator, I have a special place in my heart for teachers who show such a high level of dedication.”
Both Egling Principal Jody Johnson and retired music teacher Michael Phenicie, a member of the school board, spoke highly of Townzen.
Townzen graduated from Colusa High School and Chico State, and served in the U.S. Army from 1960 to 1962, serving in Puerto Rico, where he taught English.
After returning to Colusa, Townzen taught many subjects. His education specialty was art and crafts and physical education, but he also taught science, reading, and special education at then Colusa Jr. High. In 1966, Townzen added adult education classes and conversational Spanish, which he also taught at Yuba College.
“I will forever remember Mr. Townzen’s smiling face – on his bike,” Johnson said. “He would come up and do what ever he could for any student, and I just loved that.”
Townzen coached several sports during his career, but loved basketball, which he coached at every level, including youth, high school and Special Olympics. He also coached football and baseball.
Phenicie said Townzen took his passion for teaching outside of the classroom, tutoring students in multiple subjects, and opening the gym for them to practice.
“He just cared about the all-around well being of kids,” Phenicie said.
Townzen’s former athlete Abigail Yerxa could not attend last week’s gym dedication ceremony, but her father, Board President Charles Yerxa, read a prepared statement about her former junior high school coach.
“Coach Townzen was a rare form of leader,” wrote Abigail, who attended Egling in the late 1990s. “He was very serious about the game of basketball, and also very kind, especially to kids new to the court.”
Coach Dak Kallisuch said he got to see what kind of coach Townzen was when he coached his own granddaughter and Kallisuch’s daughter together at Egling Middle School.
“He was, first of all, extremely patient,” Kallisuch said. “He knew the game, loved his players, and found joy in seeing them succeed.”
Kallisuch said that it was fitting that Egling Middle School’s gymnasium was named after a man who spent so much time there.
Townzen’s family, including wife Peggy and son Darren, attended the dedication ceremony, which was held during the break in a Egling versus Maxwell baskeball game.
Darren Townzen stood on the new floor of the gym where he and his brother played, and thanked Colusa Unified School District for honoring his father.
“One thing that struck me as kind of funny is that me and my brother both played probably millions of hours of basketball here at Egling, and the key to this gym hung in our house the whole entire time,” Darren said. “We probably played 99 percent of the time out there on the blacktop, because one lesson that our dad taught us was this (gym) is where you come to show that you can play faster than anybody. That (blacktop) is where you go to learn how to play basketball.”
Coach Townzen was inducted into the Colusa County Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. ■