Remembering Dr. James Rusin

January 12, 2013 Updated Jan 13, 2013 at 5:54 PM EDT

By Jason Gruenauer

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January 12, 2013 Updated Jan 13, 2013 at 5:54 PM EDT

WILLIAMSVILLE (WKBW) The Williamsville School District is mourning the loss of a long-time athletic director. Dr. James Rusin served 43 years in the district, and recently lost his battle with cancer at the age of 64.

During his four decades of service, Dr. James Rusin worked most of those years as Athletic Director of the Williamsville Central School system, running physical education and modified through varsity athletics at all Williamsville schools.

"He was a committed individual to the district, and a good friend to many people, myself included," Former Williamsville Superintendent Howard Smith said.

"Just a great advocate for sports, for all the kids in our program and for all the kids of Western New York," Williamsville South Athletic Director Kevin Lester said.

Those who knew him well say Rusin's biggest accomplishments were not in the wins and losses, but the children and the programs he helped to flourish.

"He will be remembered as someone who really cared about kids and cared about what he did," Smith said.

Dr. Rusin was one of the founding fathers of federation hockey in Western New York, starting with 8 schools and growing the program to what it is today.

"Now you have about 26 high schools in WNY playing varsity hockey, representing their schools, and just participating," Lester said.

But his dedication to the athletic programs went well beyond school hours.

"On any given day you could see him at a Williamsville South baseball game, a Williamsville East lacrosse game, a Williamsville North baseball game, everything," Lester added.

But perhaps no one worked more closely with Rusin than his secretary of ten years, Karen Osborne-Lumsden.

"You can't think about athletics and not think of Jim Rusin," she said. "He probably was one of the most caring individuals about the students of the Williamsville School District that I've ever met. He loved his job and he loved the students of Williamsville."

There will be a memorial service for Dr. Rusin held Monday morning at 10 am at the Neumann Center at the University of Buffalo.