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GRCC mourns death of Gene Paxton, winningest coach in its history

Sept. 29, 2023 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Gene Paxton, who led Grand Rapids Junior College’s basketball team for 25 years, passed away Sept. 12.

Paxton started at what is now Grand Rapids Community College in 1965 and referred to his time coaching as “the best years of my life.” He retired with a 517-280 record and five Michigan Junior College Athletic Association championships – the winningest coach in school history. 

Born in Indiana, Paxton served with the Marines in the Korean War, earning a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. He later earned a master’s degree in physical education from Ball State University. 

David Selmon, GRCC’s dean of Strategic Outreach, played under Paxton and later followed in his footsteps to coach the team.

“Coach Paxton played a huge role in my life and my development, as a basketball coach, mentor and friend,” said Selmon. “He will be missed by coaches and players from all over the state – he was just a great person all around.”

Paxton was inducted in the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Hall of Fame in 1986 and into the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame in 2018. GRCC celebrated his achievements during its 2019 Homecoming basketball game.

A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 6 at O’Brien-Eggebeen-Gerst Chapel, 3980 Cascade Road SE.

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