Ferris Thomsen, 86, lacrosse star, coach

July 03, 1994|By DeWitt Bliss | DeWitt Bliss,Sun Staff Writer

Ferris Thomsen, a member of the Lacrosse Hall of Fame who coached at McDonogh and Gilman schools in the 1930s and had been the latter's athletic director, died June 21 at a nursing home in Essex, Conn., of complications of Alzheimer's disease. He was 86.

The Baltimore native, known to students and friends as "Coach" or "Buck," owned Camp Deerwood in Holderness, N.H., which he founded with his first wife in 1946. He maintained homes in Holderness and Essex.

He was inducted into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1963 and was named Coach of the Year by the U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association in 1967.

A former president of the Lacrosse Coaches' Association, he coached the South team in the annual North-South game in 1950.

Mr. Thomsen was a graduate of Friends School in Baltimore. As a student at Swarthmore College in 1928, he scored 14 goals in its 17-3 rout of Lafayette College, a record that still stands. He scored 20 goals in the remaining eight games the team played that year.

The next year, as a student at St. John's College in Annapolis, he scored 37 goals, including three in the team's closest game, a 4-3 win over Army.

That St. John's team scored 128 goals to its opponents' 27, won an unofficial national championship and placed several players, including Mr. Thomsen, on All-America teams.

Later, he played for the Mount Washington Club. In 1930, he began his coaching career at McDonogh. Four years later, he became a coach at Gilman, where he also was athletic director.

Mr. Thomsen was appointed lacrosse coach at the University of Pennsylvania in 1946. He left four years later to start 20 years of coaching at Princeton, where his teams won two national championships and 10 Ivy League championships.

His first wife, the former Helen Walter, died in 1970.

He is survived by his wife, the former Lily Smart; two sons, Ferris Thomsen Jr. of Holderness and Leonard Thomsen of Lexington, Mass.; seven grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

A memorial service was held June 24 at Camp Deerwood.

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