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Ex-coach killed in boating accident remembered as energetic, respectful

March 31, 2013|By DAVE McMILLION |

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. — Area high school baseball coaches whose teams competed against those coached by Ronald Clatterbuck knew they were often in for a hard-fought battle.

Clatterbuck, a former Berkeley Springs, W.Va., High School baseball coach, came at games with “every ounce of energy he had” and the enthusiasm was evident in his players, some of those coaches said Sunday.

Clatterbuck, 75, of Berkeley Springs, died Saturday afternoon in a boating accident while he and his son, Ross, and grandson, Chasen, were fishing on the Cacapon River, according to Morgan County Sheriff Vince Shambaugh.

Shambaugh said Sunday the three were fishing from a john boat with a trolling motor near a dam west of Berkeley Springs. The group had been fishing there for several hours and were aware of the dam, Shambaugh said.

Apparently the boat drifted too close to the dam and was swept over the dam at about 1:30 p.m. despite efforts from Ross Clatterbuck to stop the boat, Shambaugh said.

Shambaugh said Ronald Clatterbuck and his son were swept downstream. Chasen Clatterbuck was able to get to the opposite shoreline.

Ross Clatterbuck pulled his father out of the river about 150 yards downstream and went to a nearby cabin to call 911. Ronald Clatterbuck was pronounced dead a short time later, Shambaugh said.

Shambaugh said the drop from the top of the dam is about 12 feet. The level of the river was up at the time due to springtime melting, he said.

Ronald Clatterbuck led the Berkeley Springs baseball team to its only state championship in 1983.

Ben Merica, who was the head coach at Hedgesville High School for 25 years, said he first learned about Clatterbuck when he started playing high school baseball in 1974. Merica said he coached against Clatterbuck when he led the Hedgesville High School team.

“The big thing I can tell you about him was his enthusiasm,” Merica said.

John Lowery, the head baseball coach at Jefferson High School in Jefferson County, W.Va., recalled how Clatterbuck “never gave an inch.”

But when the game was over, Clatterbuck was always respectful, Lowery said.

“We had some spirited battles through the years,” Lowery said.

Shambaugh said Clatterbuck was very well known and well respected in the Berkeley Springs area. Merica said quite a few of the conversations in Berkeley Springs revolved around him.

“I’m just very sorry about it for the family and the Berkeley Springs community,” Merica said.

Clatterbuck was a 1956 graduate of Berkeley Springs High School and earned his bachelor’s degree from Shepherd College. Clatterbuck retired as a teacher and coach from Berkeley Springs High School, but he continued to work as a substitute teacher, according to his obituary.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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