In a statement issued early Thursday evening, Kansas Wesleyan University President Matthew Thompson announced that legendary former Kansas Wesleyan football coach and athletic director Gene Bissell passed away earlier on Thursday:
“It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that Gene Bissell passed away today. The Kansas Wesleyan University community has lost a beloved friend and one of its biggest and proudest fans. Gene was a champion of character, setting an example for hundreds of young men and women as a coach, teacher, athletic director and mentor during his more than 40 years at KWU and beyond as he and Evelyn remained in Salina.
Bissell coached football for 26 seasons at KWU, retiring as head coach after the 1978 season, but remained at Kansas Wesleyan for several years serving in various capacities before officially retiring from KWU in 1994. In addition to coaching football, Bissell served as assistant basketball coach, head track, tennis and golf coach and athletic director. He served as NAIA District 10 Chairman for 15 years and was a member of the National NAIA Policy Making Committee.
Please hold close the Bissell family, including his wife Evelyn, daughter Nancy (Bissell) Trehune, and son Mark, the many players, friends, faculty and community members who are sharing in the loss of a friend and celebrating Coach Bissell’s endearing love for Kansas Wesleyan University.”
Gene Bissell was 89 years old.