Eli A. “Coach” Crogan, 87, of Watertown, born to eternal life on July 16, 2022.
Eli was born May 18, 1935, in Crawford County Wisconsin to Alvin and Dora Crogan. Born a gifted athlete he was raised on the family farm and graduated from Gays Mills High School in 1953. Eli was a multi-sport athlete and key member of the Kickapoo Kids Baseball team winning 40 of 42 games pitched and earning a draft selection from the St. Louis Cardinals. Eli married his high school sweetheart and love of his life, Karen Sime, on Sept. 3, 1955. The two made Watertown their home in 1965 and enjoyed nearly 60 years of marriage before her death in 2015.
Following graduation from Luther College and another draft selection, this time by the Boston Red Sox, Eli chose instead to devote a lifetime to the development of students and athletes both at the high school and college level. While teaching and coaching he continued his love for the game of baseball playing at the semi pro level for nearly two decades earning a national title with Madison Anchor Bank. He is a member of the Madison Mallards Wall of Fame in Madison.
Eli's teaching and coaching career spanned nearly 42 years including stops at Soldier's Grove, Fennimore, UW-Whitewater, Wayland Academy and of course, Watertown. Always a Gosling. Whether you ever played for him or not he always preferred to be addressed as "Coach." When he retired he was the second winningest coach in Wisconsin basketball history. Second only to his family, Eli was most proud of the accomplishments of the students he taught and the players he coached. He believed in you even when you did not. The philosophy of MTIXE, Mental Toughness Intensity and Xtra Effort, would serve as the cornerstone of an approach to sports and life that would see more championships, awards and recognitions to be mentioned. Induction into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame, coaching in numerous All-Star games, WIAA state tournament appearances, serving as a scout for the Houston Rockets, and enjoying time as a TV basketball analyst were accomplishments of which he was particularly proud.
An avid golfer, Eli served as president of the Watertown County Club ("WCC"). He was proud to have brought Earl and Gloria Witte to the WCC who thereafter became lifelong friends. Outside of basketball season Friday nights for Eli and Karen were spent at the WCC among countless friends. He was a strong supporter of the Badgers, Packers and Brewers.
Following retirement, the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association was a source of great pride and connection for Eli up to the time of his death. Eli continued to author a mentor's manual for young coaches and most recently was selected for the 2021 Legacy Award. He was most proud of the Eli and Karen Crogan Humanitarian and Service Award. Eli continued to serve on the Wisconsin Mr. Basketball selection committee. Eli devoted full time care to Karen the final seven years of her life before she died in 2015.
Eli was preceded in death by Karen, his parents, Alvin and Dora Crogan as well as a little sister, Elizabeth "Betty" Ann at the age of seven. He is survived by his brother Richard Crogan and sons Craig (Lisa) and Curt (Robin) and daughter Cori (Paul) Prahl, as well as grandchildren Alex, Jacob and Katie Crogan, Christopher and Carter Crogan, Matthew, Miranda and Megan Prahl.
Funeral services were July 22, 2022, at Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church. Burial was alongside Karen at the Utica Lutheran Church, Ferryville, Wis., cemetery on July 23, 2022, the church where they were married in 1955.
The Eli A. Crogan Scholarship Fund is being established for the purpose of providing scholarship support to a graduating high school senior athlete pursuing a college degree. For those wishing to contribute donations should be made payable to: Eli A. Crogan Scholarship Fund.
Pederson-Nowatka Funeral Home is caring for the family. Online condolences may be made at www.pn-fh.com