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William Scully, beloved N.J. counselor, volunteer, and coach, has died at 49

Philadelphia Inquirer 11/25/2022 Kristen A. Graham, The Philadelphia Inquirer

William Scully, 49, of Stratford, N.J., a beloved counselor, coach, and Army National Guard veteran, died Tuesday, Nov. 15, after being struck by a car on I-295 in Mount Laurel.

Mr. Scully was driving southbound on 295 when car trouble forced him to the shoulder of the highway. As he exited his car, another vehicle struck him. Mr. Scully was taken to a hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Born in Lindenwold to Bud and Cheryl Scully, Mr. Scully graduated from Overbrook High School and began working as a teacher’s aide at the Archway School for children with disabilities. He eventually earned a bachelor’s degree from Thomas Edison State University and then took a job as a teacher at Archway, in Atco. Working with children with behavioral challenges was a natural fit for him.

Later, Mr. Scully got a job at Lindenwold Middle School. He later earned a master’s degree at Rowan University and moved to Sterling High School in Somerdale, where he worked for the last 16 years as a guidance counselor and volleyball coach.

“I can’t say enough about what he’s meant to Sterling High School,” Matthew Sheehan, Sterling superintendent, said of Mr. Scully in a video broadcast to the high school community. “I don’t think you could find someone who had a bad thing to say about him.”

Beyond the school, Mr. Scully’s impact was felt in communities across the region through his volunteer work. He spent years coaching for Tarkill Soccer Club, Stratford Athletic Organization, Deptford Soccer Club, and Special Olympics of New Jersey. He also started the Challenger Baseball and Soccer leagues in Stratford for children with physical and intellectual disabilities.

When Mr. Scully and his wife, Nancy, found out their daughter Erin had Down syndrome a week before she was born, Nancy Scully was initially devastated. But Mr. Scully “wasn’t even fazed,” Nancy Scully said. Together, they surrounded Erin with love and opportunities, lifting up the entire community with their work.

Mr. Scully was a treasure, said Nancy Hennefer, a longtime volunteer with the local nonprofit Bringing Up Down Syndrome and a friend of Mr. Scully’s for 15 years. Just a few weeks ago, they worked together at a BUDS hayride, where Mr. Scully did what he always did — walked in and said, “What can I do to help?” (He ended up assembling s’mores for the large crowd.)

Coaching people with disabilities isn’t for everyone, Hennefer said, but Mr. Scully was a natural.

“Everyone has unique abilities, everyone has different levels of understanding, but he was able to reach every single one of them in his own particular way, to motivate and teach them, and to connect with parents. He impacted everyone’s life.”

Mike Bonanno and Mr. Scully coached soccer together for 13 years for the Deptford Soccer Club. Tempers can run hot in youth sports, but never Mr. Scully’s.

“Never once did he raise his voice to anyone that I ever heard — he was the voice of reason on our team, the heart and soul of our team,” Bonanno said.

Mr. Scully found genuine joy in purpose in helping others and he lived to help others, in ways large and small. When a tree crashed into a neighbor’s house, for instance, he disappeared into his garage in Stratford, emerged with a chain saw, and climbed up on the neighbor’s roof so he could take care of the debris himself.

If he saw a need he could fill, he did it, often quietly. Nancy Scully is a special-education teacher in Audubon, and after Mr. Scully learned one of her students wanted to play sports at school but could not do so without an aide, he stepped up to do it, despite his busy schedule.

“He always helped,” Nancy Scully said of her husband. The two would have celebrated their 24-year anniversary Sunday.

Family was everything to Mr. Scully, the center of his world. He loved being a father. He was a devoted son and brother, and a loving uncle. But he had outside interests, too.

Mr. Scully spent 20 years in the Army National Guard, rising to the rank of sergeant first class and devoting weekends and weeks in the summer to his country. He enjoyed weightlifting and loved kayaking and spending time at the Shore. He was handy, always finding projects around the house. He was a Christmas fanatic, turning holiday music on the day after Halloween.

In addition to his wife and children Erin, Jake, and Ryan, Mr. Scully is survived by his parents; his grandfather William Brougham; his brother, Rick; and sister, Kami.

Services took place Nov. 21.

Memorial donations can be made to Bringing Up Down Syndrome, 504 Centennial Blvd. #1444, Voorhees, NJ 08043.

©2022 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Visit inquirer.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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