William “Bill” J. Falk


Falk, William “Bill” J., 91, passed away Friday, September 7, 2018. He was the husband of the late Grace (Duchin) Falk. Born in Providence, a son of the late David and Lena (Feinstein) Falk, he lived in Narragansett for 34 years, previously living in Cranston. A 1949 graduate of Brown University, Bill earned a Master’s Degree in Education from Columbia University. As a passionate track and field coach, Bill became nationally known for his expertise in the pole vault, guiding athletes to great heights both figuratively and literally, first at the high school level, and then during long tenures at both the University of Rhode Island and the University of Miami. He was selected to coach Olympic hopefuls by the U.S. Olympic Committee. Along the way, Bill received numerous coaching awards including induction into the URI Athletic Hall of Fame, R.I. Track Coaches Hall of Fame and was a five-time New England Coach of the Year, to name a few. Bill’s other passion was business. He and his late wife, Grace, founded M-F Athletic Company in 1960 and he continued to be an important figure in the business until his recent decline in health. Devoted father of Martha Falk of Cranston and Eric Falk and his wife, Dana, of Providence. Beloved grandfather of Rachel, Audrey, and Leah. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to the Summertime Fund, c/o RI Foundation, One Union Station, Providence, RI 02903. Funeral services will be private.


  1. tina fain
    Sep 8, 2018

    so sorry to learn of your dad’s passing – he was a favorite client of mine when i worked at Fern/Hanaway – may all the wonderful memories you have of him help you during this difficult time.

  2. Pam & Barry Schiff
    Sep 9, 2018

    Dear Eric, Dana & girls,

    So sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing. May wonderful memories be a source of comfort, peace and strength during this difficult time. May his memory forever be a blessing.

  3. Thomas M. Kenwood
    Sep 9, 2018

    The whole track community mourns the loss of Bill. No one has done so much for R.I. track. Just last December I was at a College Meet at Brown and Bill was there mentoring a vaulter. He was filled with enthusiasm for an event in track which he helped transform into the spectacular art form it has become. We will miss you!

  4. Rick Marshall
    Sep 9, 2018

    A true gentleman and scholar–and lover of jazz–Bill was a leader in all he pursued. He inspired many and I was blessed by his guidance. My prayers go out to to his entire family.

  5. arthur k newman
    Sep 9, 2018

    Your Dad was one of my teachers years ago, nothing but the best,
    he will be coaching in haven, he will rest in peace…….

  6. Lenny Berk
    Sep 9, 2018

    So sorry to hear of Bills passing, I will have found
    Memories of our many talks and celebrating
    His birthday each year, of all the customers
    I’ve had the pleasure of doing business with
    Bill and Eric will always be one of my favorites , rest
    In peace Bill you earned it.
    Lenny Berk

  7. david jackson
    Sep 9, 2018

    I am so saddened as many are to hear of Bill’s (we called him Chief) passing. I know his health declined but his presence at track meets for people who knew him was always a great pleasure. He will be so very missed, and we mourn with you, but will always celebrate his memory and what he did for Rhode Island, the track and field, and everyone who knew and experience the kindness he shared.

  8. Roger Breslow
    Sep 9, 2018

    My condolences to the Falk family. Bill was an old friend, he coached track and field at Hope in the early 1960′s when I covered high school sports for the Journal. We always had a cordial relationship. We have lost a good man.

  9. Jan Spieczny
    Sep 9, 2018

    My heart felt condolences to the Falk family and everyone whose life Bill touched. He was my Civics teacher and Track coach at Hope in 1959. (State Champs). I will miss him. RIP Coach

  10. Rob Lasorsa
    Sep 9, 2018

    To many of us Bill was a brilliant “boss”, extremely successful Coach, a wonderful mentor & teacher; and a “second” father figure.
    There are no words to express my overwhelming and deep sorrow. I feel sincerely privilege to have counted Bill as an employer, and, more importantly – a charming and loyal friend.
    The stories are endless – from staying in dormitory and hotel rooms together, to traveling to back to back to back clinics, to packing up equipment in 100 degree plus temperatures. With Bill’s hilarious sense of humor, I treasured those moments. Although I write this with a heavy heart, I am also smiling as I think back to everything Bill has personally done for me. Knowing that this day would eventually come, it is still a terrible blow. All of us are the poorer for Bill’s death as he made such a major difference in so many lives. Bill leaves with a legacy of wisdom, humor, and love of family and friends.
    I remember so well the first time that I met Bill. I was a 17 year old Freshman at Springfield College and had a particularly underwhelming performance at the New England Championships. Bill, then Coaching a powerhouse team at the University of Rhode Island, came over to what probably was a “pitiful” looking kid, stuck out his hand and said “this is the first of many Championship Meets, learn from this and move on.”
    I always remembered those words throughout my college years and future coaching career. Who would have known at that time that I would someday be working for this wonderful and thoughtful man. Currently, in my 23rd year with M-F Athletic, I owe my entire career to Bill.
    I love Bill Falk and will sorely miss him.
    To Eric and Martha – I have probably never fully express to you how grateful I am to your entire family. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and Mary & I extend our deepest sympathy.

  11. Michael Katz
    Sep 9, 2018

    So sorry to hear about the passing of your dad, granddad. My mom and your dad were two of the last three Falk family members still living. I adored both your mom and dad. They were such wonderful people. Still remember my daughter Stephanie helping Dana and Eric open wedding shower presents when she was a little girl. Taken from your midst but never from your hearts. All of our heartfelt sympathies.

  12. Wayne Clark
    Sep 10, 2018

    Bill was the finest man I have ever worked for. My family owes much of what we have today to Bill and his family. I fell so blessed to have been a part of the M-F crew for these last 20 years. May God bless Bill and his entire family.

  13. Sherri Hursey
    Sep 10, 2018

    so sorry to hear of Bill’s passing. My thoughts are with all the family and his MF family. Bill was a great man and I am sure he will be missed by all.

  14. James H Boulanger
    Sep 10, 2018

    To Eric and Martha,

    My deepest sympathy. Over my 37 years at the University of New Hampshire I may not have met a nicer coach. When I first met him I was a volunteer Coach with John Copeland. Bill treated me with respect and was always willing to help a young coach.
    He will be missed by all!

    Jim Boulanger
    University of New Hampshire

  15. E. Lindsey Enders
    Sep 10, 2018

    What a treasure it was to have been coached by this legend in my high school years. Not only did he have such an in-depth knowledge of pole vaulting, his overall passion for track and field was unbeatable. On top of that, he was one of the nicest and most genuine people I’ve ever met. I learned much more than just pole vaulting from him. May he rest in peace, and I extend my deepest sympathies to his family during this time.

  16. David & Lynette Hie
    Sep 11, 2018

    Our deepest sympathy. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family. Your dad will be missed.

  17. John Keleher
    Sep 11, 2018

    God speed coach. Bill was mentor, a great advisor in selecting equipment, and a friend for many years. He has left his mark in New England and nationally on the sport of track and field. He was not transported to heaven he vaulted in

  18. Fred Finke
    Sep 11, 2018

    Bill will be greatly missed. Heard him speak many times and afterwards he was always willing to sit down and talk track with you, and let you pick his brain. My sincere condolences to his family.

  19. Mark A Nelson
    Sep 12, 2018

    So sorry to hear of Bill Falk’s passing. I had the pleasure of attending Bill’s pole vaulting camp as an athlete and a coach and Bill was always very supportive. My deepest condolences.

  20. Edwin and Carol Brooklyn
    Sep 13, 2018

    Although we just had a passing acquaintance with your Dad we remember him as an outstanding member of the community. He touched a lot of people favorably through his coaching and very ethical way of doing business. You can be very proud of him and the fine example he set for his family and friends. Both of us. along with our children John, Alex, Nancy and Susan send our condolences.

  21. June Mogavero
    Sep 13, 2018

    My deepest sympathies to all the Falk family. I was lucky enough to call both Grace & Bill my dear friends & felt they were family. I am lucky enough to know Eric, Dana & the 3 girls & Martha too. You can never know a more loving kind family than all the Falk’s. You all are in my thoughts & prayers & forever in my heart. I know that Bill & Grace are together again & that makes me smile – with love & sympathy, June

  22. Chris Miller and family
    Sep 14, 2018

    Our hearts go out to your family. We hope the love expressed for Coach and the memories you’ve shared bring you happiness and laughter in the days ahead.

  23. Harvey Wagner
    Sep 17, 2018

    The Falk Family:
    I was saddened to hear of Your Dad’s passing. Had wonderful memories and life’s lessons learned during his coaching tenure at Hope High School Class ’59. I was a student of his in Civic’s class,
    and needless to say, wasn’t his top one [hard to believe]. But in track, learned to compete hard, have fun and he taught me to have perseverance. I have vivid memories of his hearty laugh and rosy cheeks and yelling at us to ‘pick it up’! He will be missed.
    My sincere condolences to you all.
    Harvey Wagner

  24. Steve Gardiner
    Sep 21, 2018

    My deepest condolences to the Falk family. I am another of many coaches who Bill mentored over the years. As a young high school coach, I would stop by his store in Cranston on Saturday afternoons back in the late 1970′s so that I could learn as much as I could from this supreme coach (and gentleman). His wife Grace must have groaned each time I came in as that meant I would be monopolizing his time over the next couple of hours which meant she had to do the work of two for the rest of that afternoon! There was only one Bill Falk.

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