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2017: The Sports Year in Memoriam

These New Mexicans, all of whom  made lasting contributions to sports in our state during their lives, were lost in 2017.

Pervis Atkins: The nation’s leader in rushing and yards from scrimmage for the New Mexico State Aggies in 1959, Atkins went on to a seven-year career in the NFL. In 2009, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He died on Friday at age 82.

Larry Chavez: A longtime Albuquerque boxing coach, judge and referee, Chavez died on Feb. 13 at age 84.

Former U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici: Though far better known for other accomplishments, Domenici was an all-conference pitcher for the New Mexico Lobos and pitched one season for the Albuquerque Dukes during his youth. He chose a career in public service over baseball, he once said, because “my curveball didn’t have enough bite.” Domenici died on Sept. 13 at age 85.

Francisco “Paco” Fernandez: He played football for the Aztec Tigers and was a devoted sports fan. He died, tragically and far, far too soon, on Dec. 7 at age 17.

Mary Lou Butler Frazier: Among the state’s most decorated amateur golfers — she won five Albuquerque city championships, four state titles and two regional titles —she died on Dec. 30, 2016, at age 89.

John Gunther: The Sandia High School baseball coach courageously battled cancer before succumbing on March 15 at age 55. “If I let this take over my psyche, then I’m waiting to die,” Gunther told the Journal’s James Yodice in March 2016. “That’s not me.”

Mark Holm: The former Albuquerque Journal photographer and Albuquerque

Photojournalist Mark Holm, pictured in March 2016. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Tribune photo editor took many a wonderful sports shot during his three decades in Albuquerque. A coach in his own right, a mentor to scores of photojournalists, Holm died on May 30 at age 63.

Casey Jordan: A proud and dedicated Aztec High School cheerleader, Casey died — tragically and far, far too soon — on Dec. 7 at age 17.

Frank Love: A highly successful coach at Monroe Junior High, Love became Del Norte High School’s first boys basketball coach when the school opened in 1964. He died on Sept. 7 at age 81.

Eric Martinez: He got into the boxing promotion business to help his friend, fellow Norteño Tony Valdez, get fights. He wound up promoting seven pro cards and 40 bouts, 38 of which included at least one New Mexico fighter. He died on June 22 at age 38.

Dick McGuire: His UNM golf teams won 10 consecutive conference titles from 1957-66, but his lasting legacy lies with the many former pupils of his who went into coaching or became club professionals. He died on June 23 at age 90.

Isidro Rubi: A four-sport star at St. Mary’s High School and an all-conference infielder at UNM, Rubi remained active in sports throughout his life. He died on

Feb. 18 at age 77.

 

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