Bradley Joseph Feeken, 48, passed away on December 30, 2023, leaving behind a devoted crowd of family, friends and basketball players. His no-nonsense personality, single-minded focus and tough love is the source of countless stories and memories, which keep his spirit alive.
To Brad, coaching (and life) was simple: “Do right.” He pursued it with obsessive passion.
Brad was born on July 15th, 1975 in Hastings, NE to Dale and Jeanie Feeken.
His greatest childhood love was basketball. He attended Hastings High School where he was part of a Class A semifinal team and broke the school record for career field-goal percentage.
His college of choice was Doane College in Crete, Neb., where he was a member of the men’s basketball team until he tore his ACL. During those years, he met several lifelong friends, most notably Bill Heard, now Gretna High head boys basketball coach.
Brad graduated from Doane College, earning a Master’s Degree in Education. At Gretna, he began his career teaching middle school reading and assisting the boys basketball program. In 2003, he became the head coach and remained in this role the rest of his life. Brad was incredibly competitive but the games were not his favorite part of coaching. He most loved the relationships with the players. He wanted his players to leave his program as men with integrity, grit and purpose. He told each player, “I love you” and “My door is always open.” His impact on players was enormous, as was his phone contact list.
Brad was a talented coach, but he was probably an even better teacher. His ability to connect with students and make them feel special during the difficult middle school years was remarkable. His energy and presence were unmatched. He would consume countless books during the summer to be prepared with a reading recommendation for every kid’s specific interest. He applied for and received many grants and built an impressive library in his classroom, and was very proud of this. Jolly Rancher candy was a favorite treat to give to his students, although he often referred to them as Happy Farmers.
In 2004, Brad met Jenny Huddle, a first-year teacher at Gretna High School. The story that his friends love to tell is that he came to her classroom during teacher work days before the first day of school and bragged, “Hi, I’m Brad Feeken, head boys’ basketball coach.” Jenny was as calm, gentle and quiet as Brad was nervous, high-strung, and loud. They were a perfect match and made each other better people. They were married in 2006 and were blessed with two daughters, Rylinn (13) and Maylee (11). In 2017, their family was completed by son John.
Brad will be remembered and loved for his integrity, energy, and passion. He surrounded himself with only the best people. He didn’t have time for anything else. He cared nothing for material possessions and always said that a home is simply “a place to hang your hat.” He didn’t waste time on things that didn’t eternally matter.
Besides his love of basketball, Brad also picked up a love of fishing in recent years, although not the bobber style. That would have meant sitting still, which he refused to do. Despite the time required of him to teach and coach, he always had energy for his family. His wife and children adored him. His kids especially cherished sharing in his love of basketball trading cards.
His bravery during his two-year fight with neuro endocrine cancer was inspiring, as was the deepening of his relationship with Jesus through it all. A close friend and neighbor told him that Jesus pursues us (not the other way around) and is relentless and Brad agreed 100 percent.
Brad will be incredibly missed by his wife and children; his mother, Jeanie Feeken of Omaha; and sister Karen Feeken of Greenville, SC.
He was preceded in death by his father Dale Feeken, also a beloved teacher and coach.
There are so many people the family would like to thank: the entire Gretna Community for their incredible support and generosity throughout this journey; the many physicians who did their best to provide him with the best care they could; the wonderful and compassionate nurses at St. Croix Hospice; the family and friends who helped with meals, rides, and just general support these past couple of months; Brad’s close friends, fellow teachers, and coaching staff who are like family and will continue to be; the kind people at Roeder Mortuary who went above and beyond in making the process as easy as it could be; the open arms of Journey Church for providing such a beautiful space to honor Brad; to close friend and amazing pastor, Lydia Miller of Sunnybrook Community Church in Sioux City, for officiating and to pastor Phil Human of Journey Church for so graciously welcoming Lydia into his church in order to honor Brad’s wishes.
Finally, thanks to the brave young men on the Gretna High basketball team for their inspiring perseverance and passion. Brad will live on in each life that he impacted and there were so many. We are all better people for having had him in our lives.
There will be a visitation service on Sunday, January 7th from 3:00-5:30 pm. Funeral will be at 1:00 pm Monday, January 8th with cookies and coffee to follow afterwards. Both will be held at Journey Church in Gretna. Attendees are invited to wear their Gretna apparel, jeans and your favorite Gretna t-shirt!
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to Imagination Library, in honor of Brad’s love of reading and dedication to education. An account has also been set up for the college expenses of Brad and Jenny’s children. Checks can be made payable to “Coach Feeken Memorial Account.”
Journey Church will be Live-streaming the memorial service:
What Cancer Cannot Do
Cancer is so Limited…..
It cannot cripple Love.
It cannot cripple Hope.
It cannot corrode Faith.
It cannot destroy Peace.
It cannot kill Friendship.
It cannot suppress Memories.
It cannot silence Courage.
It cannot invade the Soul.
It cannot steal Eternal Life.
It cannot conquer the Spirit.