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Donald Hunt dies at 85

Former football coach and soldier remembered as disciplinarian with a big heart.

December 30, 2010|By Joe Piasecki, joe.piasecki@latimes.com

Donald Hunt, a star athlete turned World War II soldier who returned to coach championship football teams at John Muir High School and Pasadena City College, was found dead on Dec. 16 in his La Cañada Flintridge home. He was 85.

A football and track star at UCLA, the Los Angeles native joined the Army in 1943 and earned battlefield commission as a second lieutenant during combat in the Pacific theater.

He continued his military service in the National Guard for more than 20 years, said friend Don Mazen, a former editor of the Valley Sun.

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Hunt became head football coach at John Muir High School in 1954, winning four league titles and sharing a fifth before taking over PCC's football program from 1962 to 1967.

"He was a disciplinarian with a heart of gold underneath it all — an incredible leader. If the kids abided by what he was preaching, they would find success and they loved him," said longtime PCC instructor and coach Myron Tarkanian.

In 1966 Hunt fielded a Western State Conference Championship team that played the Junior Rose Bowl game, and he stayed on at PCC as a physical-education instructor into the 1990s.

Former PCC coach and athletic director Skip Robinson played on Hunt's 1966 team.

"Coach Hunt was a legend. He made the game fun, but at the same time he made it something we respected," Robinson recalled.

Mazen described Hunt as a family man wounded by the recent death of his wife LaVerne and who kept in close touch with his son Michael of Temple City, who has suffered extended illness.

A memorial service is set for noon on Jan. 14 at Forest Lawn Memorial Park – Hollywood Hills.

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