BURRILLVILLE – The field house at Eccleston Field has a new name and will soon be dedicated in honor of a well-known teacher, administrator and coach who has been a life-long supporter of the town’s athletic programs.
Members of the School Committee voted last week to rename the white brick structure on Callahan School Street the George Ducharme Field House at Eccleston Field.
A lifelong Burrillville resident, Ducharme was an acclaimed athlete during his time at Burrillville High School, playing four years of baseball, football and hockey, and earning eight varsity letters. For two of those years, Ducharme was also an All-League Football and All-State Baseball selection.
He graduated from BHS in 1948, and went to Providence College, where he played baseball and hockey. In 1952, he left PC with a bachelor’s in education.
Ducharme served in the Korean War from 1952 to 1954, leaving with an honorable discharge. Following his return, he played football with the semi-pro team the Burrillville Mules.
He received a masters degree from Rhode Island College in 1962.
Ducharme taught English and history at BHS from 1954 to 1965, and served as an assistant coach for baseball and football for seven years. He later became head coach, and his baseball teams were division champions in 1962 and 1963, and state champions in 1965. He was also the head football coach for the 1962 football League Champions.
Ducharme was also an assistant hockey coach for PC from 1955 to 1963.
Between the years of 1966 and 1985, he served as assistant principal and principal of Burrillville Junior Senior High School.
He was a member of the Rhode Island Principals Committee from 1974 to 1980, the Burrillville Drug Committee from 1968 to 1972 and he was an original member of both the Burrillville Hall of Fame and the Burrillville Gridiron Club.
Wright’s Farm Restaurant started an annual scholarship program in Ducharme’s honor in 2016 awarding $5,000 to a senior graduating BHS. Selection criteria are based, “on the exemplary qualities, efforts and achievements that Mr. George P. Ducharme has demonstrated throughout his entire life.”
“His involvement and interactions display a passion to teach, guide, support and mentor others while providing clear expectations, discipline and compassion for everyone,” the scholarship form noted. “He has personally touched the lives of thousands of students and athletes because he understands the strength and vision that can be awakened in others by believing and recognizing their unique talents and contributions.”
Ducharme, who is now 88, retired in 1985, and until recently, still served as an occasional substitute for the Burrillville School District. He still collects tickets at all Broncos home games, and in 32 years, he’s missed only two football playoffs.
A plaque honoring Ducharme already sits on the wall outside the high school auditorium.
Town Councilor Raymond Trinque brought the request for the field house dedication before the School Committee at their October meeting.
At the official dedication, a sign will be placed at the structure.
“This wouldn’t have happened if Mike hadn’t gotten it started,” said Trinque of School Committee member John Michael Karmozyn, who also worked on the project.
“It’s an honor well worth it,” said Trinque, pointing to a clipping from Ducharme’s days as a BHS athlete.
“In 1948 ,he was working in the summer at the Stillwater Mill and in the Stillwater News – which was their newsletter – they said ‘we want to wish Georgey good luck in his year at BHS. He’s the biggest little big man in the town of Burrillville,'” Trinique read.
“George went on to have one of the most successful years of any Burrillville athlete in the history of our school that year, with championships and captainships in three sports,” said Trinque. “Back then, the adults in the community respected George just as much as we do today.”
Ducharme, who was present for the meeting, pointed out that three of the members of the committee were his students.
“I’ve spent 63 years in the system, and I’ve loved every minute of it,” said Ducharme.