Paintsville's Walter Brugh, one of Kentucky high school football's winningest coaches, died Tuesday night. He was 87.
Mr. Brugh played for Paintsville in the 1940s, became a Tigers assistant in the early 1950s and took over as head coach in 1956. When he retired after the 1994 season, Mr. Brugh was the state's all-time wins leader with a career record of 279-136-5.
"He's a legend in this town," said Paintsville basketball coach Bill Mike Run yon, who played football for Mr. Brugh and was an assistant under him for 23 years.
"Growing up as a kid here, one thing parents required of you was to play football for Coach Brugh. Whatever he said, your parents agreed with him. There was no second-guessing him."
Mr. Brugh built Paintsville into a small-school state power.
His Tigers averaged better than seven victories a season, and he twice led them to the Class A finals.
They suffered tough losses in both title games.
In 1978, Fort Campbell beats Paintsville 15-13 thanks to a third-quarter field goal that struck the right upright and bounced through for the decisive points.
In 1985, Paintsville took an early 6-0 lead against Crittenden County but played penalty-marred football the rest of the day and lost 14-6.
Mr. Brugh never regretted staying with the Tigers for his entire career.
In a 1993 interview, he said he "never ever wanted to go anywhere else. I've had opportunities to move on, to become a college coach or go to a bigger high school. But I didn't want to.
"I wanted to stay with the people I knew, the place I grew up, the community and school I love. No, sir, there's no other place in the United States where I feel I could do more to help boys on this level."
Mr. Brugh did win a state title at Paintsville. He coached the golf team to the 1958 championship. He also had coaching stints in track, baseball and basketball.
Mr. Brugh was a World War II Army veteran.
Visitation will be Friday from noon to 9 p.m. at Phelps & Son Funeral Home in Paintsville.
Services will be Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Paintsville High School gymnasium.
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.