William David "Coach Graham" Graham was born on September 8, 1932 in Herrin, Illinois, to the late Elizabeth Graham and the late Havis Graham. He passed away Sunday, September 2, 2018 at Mt. View Regional Medical Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Dave was the loving husband of Margie Graham. They were married on August 13, 1976. He is survived by his wife and three sons, Bryan "Scooter" Graham from Las Cruces, NM, Lance Graham from Cloudcroft, NM, and Michael Graham from Denver, CO; three daughters, Kellie Crowther from Chandler, AZ, Christine Graham from Las Cruces, NM and Melissa Bell from Glendale, AZ; brother, Jerry Graham from Herrin, IL; sister, Linda Goeb from Herrin, IL; and grandchildren, Jessica Erwin, Connor Crowther, Christopher Graham, Brandon Graham, ErinKate Galindo, Jaxon Skyles, Frank Bell, Jr., Jack Bell, Brittney Bell and many nieces and nephews.
Dave was proceeded in death by his parents and three nephews, John Goeb, Sonny Lopez and Rick Ramirez; whom he loved dearly.
Dave or “Coach Graham”, as he was known to many, was a native of Southern Illinois where he attended Herrin High School and lettered in football, basketball, baseball, and track. Upon graduating from high school, Dave attended Southern Illinois University and then joined the Air Force where he served on a flight crew during the Korean War. It was fate and the end of his five-year stint in the Air Force that brought him to southern New Mexico.
Dave attended NMSU where he completed a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and a Master of Art in Teaching. Once he completed his teaching degrees, Dave chose to remain in Las Cruces.
Dave's teaching and coaching career spans five decades. It began in 1961 at Lynn Middle School where he taught PE and coached football, basketball, and track. In 1963, Dave transferred to Las Cruces High School where he coached basketball and baseball. His longest coaching assignment however was with the Bulldawg baseball program. Dave retired from his teaching assignments in 1994 but not from coaching. He remained active in coaching the boys’ and girls’ golf teams with his dear friend Paul Gonzales.
In addition to teaching and coaching, Dave worked for the parks and recreation department with the City of Las Cruces. He was instrumental in developing and maintaining many of the baseball field complexes in Las Cruces, including Apodaca Park, Magg and Paz. He and his crew spent many late hours working during the summer months maintaining the grounds for the summer league tournaments.
His many accolades include:
•National High School Athletic Coaches Association Nominee--National High School Baseball Coach of the Year 1976
•New Mexico High School Coaches Association Coaching Milestone Award 350 Victories 1988
•National Federation of Interscholastic Coaches Association Award State of New Mexico 1989
•Franklin Select Circle in association with Scholastic Coach Magazine National High School Coaching Award for Superlative Performance and Dedication to the Student Athlete Baseball Coach Gold Award 1989
•National Interscholastic Coaches Association Distinguished Service Award 1990
•National High School Athletic Coaches Association Nominee--National High School Baseball Coach of the Year 1990
•North/South All-Star Baseball Coach 1985 & 1990
•American Baseball Coaches Association-Twenty-five Years of Leadership and Devotion to Baseball 1991
•New Mexico Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame-Service and Dedication to New Mexico Baseball 2010
•Field of Dreams’ Wall of Honors for his contribution to youth athletics in Las Cruces
By far, one of Dave’s proudest moments though was just a few weeks ago on July 17th when the practice field at Las Cruces High School was dedicated and named “Dave Graham Field” thanks to his many ball players, coaches and friends, including but not limited to, Mark Lopez, Gil Padilla and Gino Satrian.
Friends and family can pay their respects at the celebration of his life and his birthday, on Saturday, September 8, 2018 at 12:00 p.m. at the Shrine & Parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe, 3600 Paroquia St., Las Cruces, New Mexico, 88001. A reception will follow at the Parish Hall. Officiating will be Fr. Valentine Jankowski, O.F.M., Conv.