Obituary: Walt Bubley

from TT Topics

(USA Table Tennis Magazine)

November 1982

by D.Strang


The sport of Table Tennis and many of us hello play it have lost a dear friend recently. Walt Bubley. who for years was the sustaining force behind the old Cleveland Table Tennis Club on 152nd Steet, passed away this fall after a prolonged illness.


Walt was the kind of person whose life touched many others. By occupation he was a public school teacher in the troubled Cleveland City Schools. Talking with him about has work, you knew he was one of those teachers who loved his students and was loved and respected by them as well..


Walt's second love was table tennis.

While he was never rated over 1800 as player, due to his age and some foot problems that restricted his movement, he was the best coach I ever had. I say this with .all due respect to some of the other fine coaches I’ve learned from over the years including D.J. Lee. Ai Li Guo. Dell Sweeris and the Seemillers.


His combination of interest in his student, whether a beginner or a 2000 level player, combined with his analytical understanding of table tennis, made it possible for him to teach difficult concepts and shots in an amazingly short periods of time.

In any other country, perhaps his talents as a coach could have been utilized more fully by the Table Tennis Association or the educational system.


While I am for anything that supports our top players, people like Coach Bubley show us the need to identify, utilize and support talented table tennis coaches as well as players if the sport is to be advanced.


When Walt first Started coaching me, I was a rather cautious table tennis player who relied mostly on pushing and blocking to win points – stuck at about 1950. He taught me new strokes and shots but more importantly, he gave me the confidence to persevere and try new things, even when my mind said ‘it won’t work. I can’t do that. (‘editor/author’s note: I reached 2150 and 49th in the USA a few years after this article)


Perhaps that is the most important trait in a coach, the ability to bring out the best from within his student. What made Walt more than just a great coach but a great human being was that he brought out the best in everyone he met, not just as a table tennis player or a high school student, but as a human being. It was hard to stay depressed or unhappy or discouraged around Walt. His loving positive altitude shone through even after months of battling for his life and the  draining treatments he had to undergo to extend it.


 I know that there is much more that could be written about Walt. Stories about his experiences in Table Tennis and his life, but I hope some of his other friends will get a chance to share those with you..


I would like to thank Walt’s family, especially his wife Irma, for so generously sharing her husband with his many friends at the old Cleveland Club. I thank God for the privilege of having known him and pray that someday I will live up to the example he set.

Thanks, Coach. we will never forget you


Author: Dave Strang