Photo Credit: Joe Rogate, 1999
Chris Deeks' lifelong motto was "leave a footprint." He left his through sports. "He was a very generous, loving, giving, and kind person who touched many lives," said his wife, Joann Deeks.
Deeks, who touched the lives of students and athletes at four schools, teaching social studies and coaching lacrosse and football, died Thursday of a heart attack, his wife said. He was 60.
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Deeks most recently of Whitestone, Queens, had just taken over as head football coach at Great Neck North High School, in addition to coaching boys lacrosse there for the past two seasons, and previously coaching lacrosse and football at Floral Park Memorial High School. He taught social studies at The Highland School in Fresh Meadows and also taught at Bethpage High School.
Not easily bothered, he lit up his workplace with confidence, said Great Neck North athletic director Eamon Flood. "Chris was completely unflappable," he said. "He didn't complain, he just found solutions. He was positive about everything."
Aided by a zest for working with others, Deeks was handling the preparation for his first football season with ease, Flood said. "He was a first-time head coach working with four assistant coaches and it was just a beautiful transition," he said.
Deeks grew up in Elmont. After graduating Sewanhaka High School in 1970, he attended Hofstra University. He played on the 1970 Hofstra football team and the lacrosse team from 1971 to 1974, according to his family.
Deeks graduated Hofstra in 1976, according to his resume, with a degree in sociology, a minor in secondary education and math and graduate credits in educational administration. Following graduation, he taught social studies at Bethpage High School. There, he coached football and boys' lacrosse.
After moving to Floral Park in 1992, he was instrumental in rebuilding the Floral Park Memorial boys lacrosse program. Lacrosse returned to the school's spring sports lineup in 1989 after a nine-year absence. He coached there until 2007, family said.
During his time at Floral Park Memorial, Deeks would take his boys' lacrosse teams on road trips during spring break, looking to test their skills against the highest-quality talent that the nation had to offer.
"He's been an ambassador for [lacrosse], not only on Long Island, but [for the] entire country," said Wally Cook, an assistant coach under Deeks at Great Neck North.
Deeks' passion for lacrosse extended beyond the high school level. He coached in the Floral Park Youth Lacrosse program and would organize games for players who did not get to play on all-star teams, Cook said.
Deeks also is survived by a son, a daughter and his mother and brother. A wake will be held Monday from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at New Hyde Park Funeral Home, where a funeral is set for Tuesday at 10 a.m. Burial will follow Tuesday at Pinelawn Memorial Park.