Danvers native Dick Farley left a 42-year legacy at Williams College

Dick Farley was surrounded by his players during the closing seconds of their win over Amherst on Nov. 11, 1989, which gave Williams its first undefeated season.
Dick Farley was surrounded by his players during the closing seconds of their win over Amherst on Nov. 11, 1989, which gave Williams its first undefeated season.William Tague/Williams Tague

Dick Farley was an assistant football and track coach at St. John’s Prep, in his hometown of Danvers, when a newspaper ad for the same positions at Williams College caught his eye.

Farley, an All-America defensive back at Boston University (class of 1968), had returned to St. John’s, his alma mater, as a teacher-coach after playing two professional seasons with the American Football League’s San Diego Chargers.

“I remember sending the application to a PO box in Williamstown,’’ Farley said. “But what I didn’t know is that it wound up on the desk of Williams athletic director Bob Peck, who was the athletic director at BU when I was a football and track captain there.’’


His hiring, in 1972, marked the first of 42 years at Williams as a head and assistant men’s and women’s track coach, and the football program’s most successful head coach.

The 68-year-old Farley, who guided the Ephs to a 114-19-3 record from 1987 to 2003, including five perfect seasons, is retiring next month.

He had served as assistant track coach and club sports coordinator the past 11 years.

On Oct. 11, the college’s new turf football/lacrosse field at the Weston Field Athletic Complex in Williamstown will be named Farley-Lamb Field.

Renzie Lamb, a close friend, former coaching colleague, and morning walking partner for Farley, was an assistant football and head men’s lacrosse coach at Williams.

“To be linked with Dick Farley is a lifetime honor,’’ said Lamb, “and it’s a privilege to be the second name after the hyphen, because Dick was a 24/7, 365-guy who deserves every accolade coming his way.’’

A member of the St. John’s Prep, BU, and College Football halls of fame and recipient of numerous lifetime achievement awards for football, Farley recently attended his 50th class reunion at St. John’s.


His high school football coach, Paul “Buster” DiVincenzo, was a demanding mentor, Farley recalled.

“He was hard-nosed and put us through the wringer, to put it mildly,’’ said Farley. “He wore his emotions on his sleeve, and I definitely inherited those traits from Buster.’’

Farley’s family was well known in town: His father, Joe, was fire chief, and his uncle, Ed, was police chief.

“I couldn’t get away with much,’’ said Farley, who was recruited by BU assistant football coach Bob Margarita, who watched him excel against archrival Malden Catholic. Margarita later coached for many years at Stoneham High.

“My dad always told us that nothing good happens after midnight,’’ said Farley, whose three sisters still reside in Danvers, “and I passed on that advice to my athletes at Williams.’’

The expression is one of several “Farleyisms’’ that became legend over the years at Williams, an NCAA Division 3 school where Farley was an assistant to head football coach Bob Odell for 15 years before succeeding him.

Another: “If you can’t play here, you can’t play anywhere — there is no Division 4.’’

Before playing “the Biggest Little Game in America’’ vs. Amherst, Farley’s words to his team were, “Three hours to play, a lifetime to remember.’’

Farley met his wife, Suzanne (nee Kotzrowski), after leaving pro football. His career with the Chargers ended after he underwent back surgery.

“On our first date,’’ said Suzanne, once a cheerleader at Chelsea High, “he took me to the Beanpot Tournament. Our second date was the following week at the Beanpot finals. We finally had dinner on our third date.’’ (Farley’s classmate at BU, 40-year Terrier hockey coach Jack Parker, remains a close friend).


Married in 1974, Suzanne and Dick Farley have three children, daughters Heather and Colleen, and son Scott.

Colleen starred in track at the University of North Carolina. Scott was a force as a defensive back, receiver, and kick returner on the gridiron at Williams for three seasons, including the undefeated 2001 squad.

He is now an assistant to Williams head football coach Aaron Kelton.

“It was a joy to coach him,’’ said the elder Farley, who saw his son earn All-America honors in football, indoor track, and outdoor track at Williams. “I saw a lot of myself in Scott. We both played in the defensive backfield and were hurdlers on the track. Colleen was a hurdler as well.’’

Dick Farley ranks third all-time at BU, which dropped football in 1997, with nine interceptions his senior season.

Scott Farley said his father, who was also the defensive coordinator at Williams, “could call out the other team’s play before the ball was snapped. And after every home game and the handshakes and press conference, he’d be out the door to go to afternoon Mass at St. Patrick’s Church.’’

Farley originally thought his coaching stint at Williams would last two years, and be a steppingstone to a larger school, or even the pros.

“About all I knew about Williams in 1972 was that they played Tufts,’’ he said. “But I realized over time how fortunate I was to be here, raise our family here, and to influence the lives of so many young people.’’


Farley, who was honored last week with other Wiliiams coaching retirees, said he never focused on records or awards as a football coach.

“But being away from football for more than 10 years,’’ he said, “I appreciate the recognition more now.’’

He will be on sabbatical for a year, traveling and visiting family and most certainly reflecting on his 40 “extra years’’ in Williamstown, Farley said.

“I came here a long time ago when there were already other individuals who had facilities named for them,’’ he said. “I thought then, ‘Wow, this is something.’

“Now the videotaping, the recruiting, the crazy hours have all come full circle, and it is an honor to be in their company.’’

Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com.