Royce Gerber lived with passion.
He had a passion for his life, his family, his job, sports and people.
After a long battle with cancer, Gerber, passed away on Oct. 5. He was 70.
Gerber spent 35 years teaching at Dallastown High School. From 1969 through 2004, Gerber taught driver/safety education, and he coached on the Wildcats' basketball and baseball teams.
"He was really a dedicated teacher," former Dallastown High School principal Dr. George Jones said. "He was dedicated to the well-being of the kids. He worked a long time with teaching kids how to drive and did a lot with them in the car in regards to safety."
During his teaching tenure, he coached five York/Adams County Student Driving champions and one state runner-up.
In 2000, Gerber helped to write the curriculum for the enhanced safety education program for Pennsylvania. As part of that honor, Gerber attended a conference in Harrisburg regarding the updated curriculum. Jones went along, too.
"I was listening to the keynote speaker's address, and the speaker was quoting Royce," Jones said. "That really impressed the heck out of me."
Gerber and Jones also lived in the same neighborhood, which gave the teacher a chance to visit his principal even on off days to share ideas.
"Royce was so enthusiastic about the drivers education program, and there were several times I was out in sub-freezing temperatures shoveling snow and he would stop and he would ask me if we could do things in the safety ed program. I remember talking to him in the driveway as I was trying to get the driveway open, and the snow just blowing around.
"He was just one of those dedicated people that liked his job and liked the kids he was working with and really did a good job," Jones said.
Gerber was first diagnosed with cancer in August 1989, but continued coming to work.
"It was astonishing to me," Jones said. "He had some ups and downs. I know it was pretty rough for him. But, he continued with a positive attitude towards the job and the kids."
Dallastown athletic director Tory Harvey said Gerber was a special person to be around.
"He had a unique way of connecting with people that was second to none," Harvey said. "He was beloved by the staff here. I'm getting emails from coaches around the league. He made an unbelievable mark on so many people."
Harvey said he cherished the years he spent working with Gerber.
"I had the privilege of being a player under his leadership here at Dallastown then being a colleague of his with the safety/drivers education program then being a coach with him with the girls' basketball team. He's a special friend. He's really one of my heroes," Harvey said.
Through sports, Gerber was able to affect even more people, both students and adults alike.
"He was just able to relate to all the student athletes," Harvey said. "It was a combination of his unbelievable DNA, his sense of humor and his knowledge. The kids would do anything for him."
Gerber coached boys' basketball from 1982 to 1993 and led the girls' basketball team during the 2006-07 season. He stayed on as an assistant in the years that followed for the girls' team.
"We were in the middle of some turnover and we were looking for some stability and asked if he would get involved," Harvey said of the girls' program. "He stepped in there for that one year. Then, I came on for two years, and he stayed on as a loyal assistant."
He also spent more than 40 years as an assistant baseball coach from 1970-2011.
"He was just the perfect assistant coach," Harvey said. "You need an assistant that can be a buffer between the head coach and the team, and he was perfect in that role."
Current Dallastown girls' basketball coach Mary Manlove first met Gerber in 2008 as both were assistants for Harvey.
"That first year I knew him as an incredible story teller and loved being on bus trips and the sidelines with him," Manlove said. "He could remember every great college basketball game, player, stats and scores. I was so impressed with his wealth of knowledge and tried to pick his brain whenever it was possible."
Gerber graduated from Spring Grove in 1963 and received an education degree from West Virginia University.
Manlove said Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan, John Wooden were some of his favorite coaches.
"He'd give me his picks for my March Madness brackets, and he was never wrong," Manlove said.
"Royce Gerber was one of a kind. I'll never meet someone more unique or special than him," Manlove said.
Dallastown girls' basketball coach Mary Manlove said longtime coach Royce Gerber had an "old school" way of explaining basketball. She called them Gerberisms and shared a few:
Smell orange: "That really meant to get off your player and anticipate a steal when the ball was in the air," Manlove said.
Reach for the peach: "To release your shot high and follow through at the basket," Manlove said. "He would spend countless hours in the gym on Saturday mornings shooting with players to improve their form."