When Burns Page got the job as the assistant executive director of the Vermont Principals’ Association many years ago, he called newspapers around the state and excitedly told the press that he wanted to introduce himself and put a face on the VPA.
When he called the Rutland Herald and found the reporter on the other end of the phone was a Proctor High graduate, his excitement escalated, extolling Proctor’s Dave Reissig. Page had played against Reissig in state tournament games when Page played for Peacham Academy.
“We could not stop him. He had this hook shot and we just couldn’t stop it,” Page said
Dave Reissig, one of the best to ever wear the Proctor uniform, died on March 30 at Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans after a battle with COVID-19 at the age of 82.
He had only recently returned from Florida with his wife, Ione, the love of his life since meeting in kindergarten in Proctor.
“He was healthy. He was playing pickleball three days a week,” said Reissig’s daughter Kris Owens.
He had attended men’s basketball games at the University of Vermont on March 7 and March 10, which would have put him at one of the games worked by an official who later tested for the COVID-19.
“We will never know,” Owens said of the possibility he contracted the virus at UVM’s Patrick Gym.
Reissig was a star player on Proctor teams that won state championships in basketball in 1955 and 1956.
The evening of Dec. 11, 1953, was a special one in Proctor. That was the day the first game was played in the new gym and the opponent was rival West Rutland. It is the gym the Phantoms still call home and today it is one of the most intimate gymnasiums, its matchbox proportions once putting it on the VPA’s list of gyms not acceptable for holding playoff games.
But when it opened in 1953, it was the envy of most schools.
Reissig, a 6-foot-3 sophomore with the signature hook shot, made the occasion even more memorable. He had a game-high 22 points in a 48-37 victory.
That was one of many games in which Reissig was a prolific scorer and where he brandished the hook shot that was a weapon capable of driving defenders crazy. He scored 24 points in a 55-45 win over Marshfield in a state-title game. It was all just another day at the office for Reissig.
He was recruited to play basketball at Brown, but transferred after one year there to the University of Vermont, where he played three years of baseball.
Maybe that should not have been a surprise. His idyllic years in Proctor were spent playing any sport that involved a ball.
There were plenty of days spent at the town pool and skating rink.
Despite spending all his years in Franklin County after graduation and globetrotting as a secret service agent, he never lost his love for Proctor.
He would come back each winter just to spend a day at Proctor’s skating rink out on the ice, riding a wave of nostalgia.
Proctor’s Shannon Maass sent copies of Mary Fregosi’s book “Phantom Yell,” to Kris Owens’ home in Shelburne so that she and her family could relive Dave’s days, which are lavishly chronicled in that history of Proctor High School basketball. The book arrived on Friday.
Kris said that her father always said that when he died he had hoped if he got to Heaven that it would be like Proctor.
The name Dave Reissig was a magic name to younger people growing up in Proctor. Bill Ladabouche, PHS Class of 1964, referred to him as a hero when he was growing up.
He spoke for a lot of people in his age bracket but also to the adoring adult fans who flocked to the new gym to watch Reissig lead the Phantoms during an ultra successful era.