At service, coach Brian Stone remembered for a life filled with faith

Sunday News Correspondent
March 18. 2018 1:19PM
All 900 seats were filled and most of the walls were lined by standing loved ones who attended Brian Stone's celebration of life service at Manchester Christian Church in Bedford Saturday. (Ryan O'Connor/Sunday News Correspondent)

BEDFORD — Nearly 1,000 loved ones, friends and colleagues celebrated coach Brian Stone’s life Saturday in a standing-room only ceremony at Manchester Christian Church.

Those who spoke at the service lauded Stone for his accomplishments as a hockey player and coach, but described him first and foremost as a man who left a legacy of faith, hope and love, the three virtues by which the Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13, said man should live.

And if the words of those who memorialized Stone were any indication, man, did he live.

The former Central High School hockey coach’s sister, Laurie Stoddard, in a statement read by Bruce Southerland, the church’s director of pastoral care, said her brother struggled with addiction, but his decision nine years ago to commit his life to Jesus drastically altered the direction of his life.

“Brian told me that it is ‘God who removed all the desire from me.’ Regarding addiction, he was completely healed. That is the power of Jesus Christ,” she said. “This, then, became Brian’s journey, to share the love of Christ to anyone and everyone. Brian realized his purpose on earth, to see people come to know Jesus, so they too could be changed and have eternal life in him.”

Stoddard said her brother lived by that faith, touching everyone he encountered, from his players, to fellow coaches and friends, to hundreds struggling with addiction in the Greater Manchester community.

Manchester Christian Church Senior Pastor Bo Chancey said Stone’s name was a microcosm of his life.

“Here is a man who was a rock,” said Chancey, “a solid man, a man who was a rock for his friends and his family, a man who was a rock for his community, a rock for his players, a rock for people who looked up to him. And believe me, even though he wasn’t a tall man, a lot of people looked up to Brian.”

One person who looked up to Stone was Joseph Gribok of Manchester, who said Stone gave hope to the Queen City’s hopeless. Stone volunteered at recovery organizations.

“He was a man of complete selflessness, with a genuine compassion and desire to help others. His hand was always extended to anyone in need,” said Gribok. “He was truly an example of the type of person anyone should aspire to be. He will be missed in all the communities that were blessed to be touched by his life.”

Stone’s wife of 20 years, Kim, through a statement read by Southerland, said her husband’s passion was giving back to people, not only to her and their daughter, Hannah, and the rest of their family, but to anyone he encountered, especially his players.

“Most of you know how much love and dedication he had to the high school players that he coached. He would strive not just to coach, but to mentor these young men and make a difference in their lives, both on and off the ice,” she said. “He wanted to instill a lasting impression and give them something to take forward in their lives. He truly loved and wanted the best for these boys’ future.”

Keenan Alnahas, a former goalie at Manchester High School Central, said Stone led by example of love and compassion.

“To all of his players, he always preached attitude and effort, and out of anybody I’ve met, I’ve probably never really met anybody who lived by what he said as much as coach,” said Alnahas. “I think what was so special about coach is that he always wanted to be number one, but at the same time, he always put everyone else first. It was never about him. It was always about his players and other people.”

Stone’s friend and fellow Fellowship of Christian Athletes leader Phil Tuttle described the love and compassion that Stone breathed into his players.

“He was exactly like every coach who ever coached me in the Manchester Flames organization growing up. There was this rawness, this realness and this incredible representation of Manchester in who he was as a person,” said Tuttle. “Brian truly learned what it meant to coach beyond the jersey. He wasn’t just coaching hockey players. He was building up young men who were going to be leaders in the community for years to come.”

In honor of the way Stone lived his life and mentored his players, Tuttle said. the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has established the Coach Brian Stone FCA Camp Scholarship Fund.

“We often talk about the legacy a coach will have, and that question that he had, — ‘Am I making an impact?’ — has been answered,” said Tuttle. “With every single person who has been sitting here today, and even those who can’t make it, the legacy of coach Stone is going to live on. It’s going to live on through his players, it’s going to live on through the ministry of FCA. ... Every single year we’re going to send students from the Greater Manchester area to camps to continue on the legacy of a coach that so honored us with his life, and we’re going to honor him with his passing.”

Stone, who died of a sudden heart attack following a men’s hockey league game at JFK Coliseum in Manchester on March 11, was born in Manchester on Oct. 25, 1966.

He played hockey and graduated from Central High School in 1984 and New England College in 1988. A member of the New England College Hall of Fame, Queen City Hall of Fame and New Hampshire Legends Hockey Hall of Fame, Stone remains the second all-time point scorer and top assists leader for a New England College team he captained his junior and senior years, according to his obituary.

In recent years, he coached at Manchester Memorial High School, Trinity High School and Central High School, where he led the Little Green to the 2014 Division I state championship and was named 2013-14 New Hampshire High School Hockey Coaches Association Coach of the Year.

General NewsReligionHigh schoolsDeaths in the newsNH PeopleHockeyBedfordManchester

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