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Smith, ex-ABQ High coach and Lobo, dies at 96

Myrl Smith, who coached Albuquerque High School to a pair of state championship football games in the 1960s and who led the Bulldogs to two state wrestling titles, has died.

Smith, 96, passed away July 18 in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Smith, the youngest of seven children, served in the Navy in World War II and later played football for the University of New Mexico, died of Alzheimer’s-related complications, according to his son Jerry.

Myrl Smith led AHS to the state football final in both 1961 and 1967, losing there to Carlsbad (1961) and Artesia (1967), respectively.

“That’s a pretty damn good accomplishment,” said Jim Hulsman, the longtime boys basketball coach at Bulldog City who once served as an assistant football coach to Smith.

He coached the Bulldogs’ football program from 1958-1974, compiling a 69-89-9 record.

“Once, he said to me, ‘Jim, your line looks like a hog going to slop,'” Hulsman recalled fondly. “I said, ‘That doesn’t sound very good.'”

Smith also led Albuquerque High’s wrestling program to championships in 1959 and 1961.

Smith was inducted into the New Mexico High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor in 1987, and also was a former coach of the North All-Star football team.

He was born in Brinkley, Arkansas, in 1923. After serving in the Navy in the Pacific — where, Jerry Smith said, his father personally witnessed the official surrender of Japan — he settled in Albuquerque.

During his time coaching the Bulldogs, he squared off many times against Highland coach, and longtime friend, Bill Gentry. And Jerry Smith was, for a couple of years, a quarterback for the Hornets.

“(APS) allowed my mom (Lola) to park her car in the end zone, one year at Milne (Stadium), one year at Wilson (Stadium),” said Jerry Smith with a laugh. “So she didn’t have to sit on one side or the other.”

Gentry, who died last month, and Smith played football together at UNM.

The family will have a private service for Smith on Monday. He is survived by four children: sons Ron, Jerry and Randy, and daughter Jana Perry. He also leaves behind seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Jerry Smith said the family hopes to do a celebration of life event for his father at a later date.

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