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Montville — Thomas Alquist, associate head coach of basketball at St. Thomas More School and co-owner of the Brown Derby Lounge & Cafe, died Monday.
Police said that 63-year-old Alquist was involved in a minor two-car accident on Old Colchester Road about 5:20 p.m. Monday while on his way to work at the lounge. He was taken to The William W. Backus Hospital where, friends said, it appears he died of a heart attack.
Jere Quinn, head basketball coach and a teacher at St. Thomas More, who coached with Alquist for 22 years, said he had to break the news Tuesday morning to his students about Alquist's passing.
"They are struggling with it," Quinn said. "Everyone is in shock." The basketball season ended for them last Wednesday when the team reached the National Prep School Championship finals.
"He never raised his voice," Quinn said. "He taught with quiet compassion."
Quinn said Alquist worked with the front court players, including Andre Drummond, who now plays for the Detroit Pistons. "He always said if you want to be the best, you have to be the first one to arrive and the last one to leave," Quinn said.
The team's banquet, scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed and would be rescheduled, he added.
"There just was no one more caring and supportive than him," Quinn said.
Doug Adams, co-owner of the Brown Derby, said Alquist has been connected to Brown Derby for at least 30 years, including cooking in the kitchen. Adams said when Alquist wasn't at the Derby, he was coaching teams or involved in community events.
Adams said Alquist was also a gym teacher at Montville High School many years ago.
"He's so well-known in the community," Adams said. "He was a very warm individual. It's tough. We're in shock about it."
Dozens of people have left their condolences on the Brown Derby's Facebook page.
Thomas Alquist is survived by his wife, Vickie.