Rick Selfors plays on despite all. “He’s never done anything halfway—it’s all or none,” said his wife, Debbie. Photo: Chris Bronstad

Rick Selfors, the Key Peninsula Middle School shop teacher and wrestling coach since the school opened in 1981, retired at the end of the term last year after an accident severely damaged his left hand. He was feted by former students, colleagues, family and friends at a three-day Sel-Fest celebration in August.

Hosted by former student John Jaggi, the main event had lots of food, a band, fire pit chats and fireworks in celebration of a much-loved teacher.

Close to 400 guests attended.

KPMS librarian Patty Van Valkenburg said Selfors was “the best thing that could happen to a kid.”

Her daughter Christie remembered that when the session on power tools came up in shop class, all the girls in class headed for the end of the line. Selfors said, “Girls need power tools, too!” and told them to move up.

One of bus driver Muriel Manolovitz’s favorite memories of Selfors was of his crazy costumes. On Friday mornings, he’d show up in a big pink wig and cowboy hat, and play guitar as the kids came into school. A few teachers and students once presented a show for the school and dressed as hillbillies. They called themselves the Sawdust Bottom Boys, with Selfors as headliner, singing “Man of Constant Sorrow” with “slightly different lyrics,” said KPMS teacher Chris Bronstad.

“His heart was open to all kids, especially problem kids,” said Marita Tarabochia, whose three daughters all had Selfors as a teacher.

“He was the first old guy I thought was cool,” said Lance Leary, although a friend pointed out that “Sel” (as teachers, students and friends call him) was only 27 at the time.

Jeff Keenan called him his favorite teacher, as well as “the best wrestling coach this side of Purdy.”

Jason McWhirter, former student and wrestler, and later a colleague at KPMS, wrote a book called “Life of Ely,” with the teacher and wrestling coach character based on Selfors.

McWhirter said “Sel” put the kids first, taught about real life and how to make the right decisions.

“He was a father figure to a lot of kids,” said Colleen Carrigan.

When reporters sought him out at KPMS for articles about himself, Selfors would say, “This is my story,” and wave his hands around the classroom full of students.