Fosness dies at age 85 after a life well lived

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     Gordon Fosness graduated from Presho High School in 1953 and went on to make an indelible mark on South Dakota basketball as a player and coach, then later as an advocate. He was a man of faith who served as a spiritual advisor to many. Fosness died Dec. 15 in Sioux Falls. He was 85.

     At the time of his Dakota Wesleyan University graduation, Fosness was the Tigers’ career scoring leader. He totaled 1,805 points with a career average of 23.4 points per game. Fosness was chosen all-South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference during each of his four seasons. He was then selected by the Minneapolis Lakers in the 1957 NBA Draft.

     Fosness (shown addressing his players during a timeout in the DWU photo at left) coached at Cavour and Gregory before returning to Wesleyan in 1961. He guided the Tigers for 22 seasons before retiring in 1983. Fosness’ teams won 10 SDIC championships. His career record, in an era when teams played far fewer games than they do today, was 351-195.

     After leaving coaching Fosness accepted the position of Director of Development at Wesleyan. Then from 1988-2000 he was the state director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Fosness was a member of several halls of fame, including the NAIA Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011 and has served on the organization’s board of directors.

Comments (3)

  • Edward W Wagner


    Coach Fosness was a man larger than his physical stature would convey. Under his tutelage the athletes learned more than just basketball skills and more importantly learned faith based life skills. One of his assistant coaches Bob Hodgson (a highly successful high school coach on Long Island NY and a friend of mine for over 40 years) and I would often relate stories about “Gordie” both basketball and life related and would use them as teachable moments to our players. You will be missed but not forgotten Coach. Much love and respect. Rest in the everlasting arms of our Lord and Savior. Until we meet again …


  • Phil Serr


    I was fortunate enough to have played football and basketball for Coach Fosness at Dakota Wesleyan University. I credit him for so many of the positive influences he had on my life. His commanding presence on the court and football field were exceeded only by his giving nature. There were so many things that he did behind the scenes on behalf of my brother Paul and me, that it was like having another dad away from home. We were so fortunate to have had him in our lives!! May God bless him and his family!! R.I.P. Gordie!!


  • Greg Hansen


    Playing for Gordon Fosness was a life-changing experience for many young men. I came from a very small high school and had serious doubts about whether I could be successful in college basketball. Gordie believed in me before I believed in myself. He was a man of faith who lived a life of service. We will never forget you Coach.


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