Luther Welsh, 79, who retired at Thomson High School last season after 46 years of coaching, died at mid-morning Thursday in an Augusta hospital, according to The Augusta Chronicle.
John Barnett, a family friend and a coaching assistant to Welsh for 19 years, confirmed the report. Barnett said he was making himself available to assist the family, and would share more news when it is available.
“Coach Welsh meant a lot of me and all the players,” Thomson defensive tackle John Atkins told the AJC on Thursday. Atkins, one of the state’s top college football prospect for 2012, played under Welsh for the last three years.
“He was a great person and great coach. Coach Welsh stayed on me and the rest of the players, always pushing us to be the best we could be.
Atkins said the mood around the Thomson community was subdued. “Coach Welsh was a living legend around here for winning games and winning state championships. Everybody is sad about his passing. He will be missed.”
The coach’s wife, Anne Welsh, died last Thursday. Beggs Funeral Home in Thomson handled arrangements for Anne Welsh.
Luther Welsh had a coaching record of 333-187, including three state championships. He coached at Thomson on two different occasions for a total of 19 years.