Legendary Georgia HS football coach Welsh dies (UPDATED)

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.

74 comments Add your comment


July 13th, 2011
5:20 pm

Great man. Praying for you coach!


July 13th, 2011
6:44 pm

Sounds like he’s got a broken heart…losing his wife last week. Praying for the coach….but an answered prayer may be for him to be reunited with his beloved wife.


July 13th, 2011
6:45 pm

Praying for you coach to be surrounded by God’s love and healing power! I am also praying for divine comfort for all his family and friends.


July 13th, 2011
7:01 pm

Get well coach… Really good man… Taught me so much about manhood


July 13th, 2011
7:28 pm

Prayers for his family.


July 13th, 2011
7:41 pm

MtnMama, I completely agree. I bet he would be happy as could be just to lay his head down tonight and wake up to his wife.
Praying for peace and comfort for the famiy and friends.


July 13th, 2011
8:13 pm

it bothers me that good man who tries to help young people has to go so soon when the drug dealers nd others try to drag other kids in to a life of crime gods hand is on the coachs heart


July 13th, 2011
8:36 pm

A very fine man. In my prayers.

Hit A Single

July 13th, 2011
9:24 pm

My thoughts and prayers are with Coach Welsh. Thank God for men like Coach Welsh! It is men like him that are the backbone of this country.


July 13th, 2011
9:26 pm

Prayers are being said for a great man and a terrific coach. My thoughts and prayers are also going up for the coaches and many players that he touched throughout the years.

South ga boy in the atl

July 13th, 2011
9:32 pm

What a fine man he is. He was the head coach at Doughtery Co. when I played QB for Thomas Co. Central in 1979 and 80. Even back then he was known as a coach with high character. I’ll never forget him congratulating me after our game in 79, of course he got the last laugh when, yrs later, his Thompson team beat my Jackets in the State Championship game in 02, if I remember correctly. Praying for you Coach


July 13th, 2011
9:52 pm


David Morgan

July 13th, 2011
9:59 pm

I attended Crisp County High. Cordele, Ga., from 1964-1966. Coach Welsh at that time was an assistant coach. He is a fine man and was well liked by the students of CCHS. My prayers are with Coach and his family.

DHS Trojan

July 13th, 2011
10:24 pm

Great Coach and teacher, he was Head Coach at Dougherty High School in Albany, GA back in the 70’s. We’ll be praying for you.


July 13th, 2011
10:46 pm

A true LEGEND in this state. God Bless you coach, but I understand if it’s time to go join your life-long partner in Heaven too! You’ll never know how much you inspired people that never met you like myself but thanks for ALL that you’ve done.

Curtis Bunn

July 13th, 2011
11:51 pm

I spent a day with Coach Welsh when I wrote for the AJC and did a significant piece on him and his wife. I left that day feeling like I had been in the presence of someone special. God bless you, Coach!


July 14th, 2011
12:07 am

I didn’t know coach Welsh, but understanding by this article, he lost his wife just last week, brings it all full circle perhaps in God’s will. My father just recently lost his wife [my mother] and Dads decline has been remarkable……….When two marry in the eyes of the lord, they become three. Perhaps the Lord is calling the coach home to be with him and his beloved wife……….Whatever the case may be, may God wrap his loving arms around coach and Mrs. Welsh’s family, and provide the strength and solice that only God can bestow……..With sincere sympathy, RED


July 14th, 2011
12:46 am

Former Richmond Academy football player so Thomson was our rival. My team lost 6-0 in the playoffs to Thomson in 1987. Tough loss but we were not bitter because we lost to a quality team led by a quality coach. May God’s angels walk you to his Kingdom and that your supporters continue to report your accomplishments.

Lucia Welsh-Coker

July 14th, 2011
8:07 am

Thank you for the kind words and continued prayers for my family.


July 14th, 2011
8:14 am

He was my end coach in 1967 in Albany,Ga,my father died during summer camp, he came to me told me about it, came to my house, cried with me, worked my butt off the next day I returned to practice….in essence made me get on with life, a true man of character. Prayers for him and his family

Ian Dube

July 14th, 2011
8:20 am

Praying for you coach so you can get back and continue to be an inspiration of us young coaches


July 14th, 2011
8:34 am

All of Lincoln Couty are praying for Coach Welsh and his family.


July 14th, 2011
8:56 am

I officiated many games for Luther Welsh and he is a hoot. One time he was cussing and ranting about a call and I reached up and took off his hat and held it in front of his mouth. “What in the hell are you doing” was his response . Luther,I said ,” this is a new shirt and your spitting tobacco juice all over it. I don’t mind the cussing but I don’y want it to cost me a new shirt”. He stopped looked at me and said “BS” Took his hat held it in front of his mouth and continued his tirade. Got to love an old Bast88rd like him. He was a great coach and several locations.


July 14th, 2011
9:24 am

I played for him on the 68 and 69 Dougherty High School teams, his frist two years as a head coach. Later covered him as a sportswriter for the Albany Hearld in the mid 70s when he had some very good teams at a school without a winning tradition. They don’t come any better. Vaya con Dios Coach.


July 14th, 2011
9:47 am

I have family who lives in Thomson and football is a big deal in that town. The reason for that is Coach Welsh. Prayers go out for him and his family. Prayers also go out to the town of Thomson. Great man!!

Quint Hawk

July 14th, 2011
9:51 am

The wildcat nation is behind you coach. We love you and hope you get well soon. What a great coach but even greater mentor.

F Barnes

July 14th, 2011
9:54 am

Luther was the first born in our family of cousins. Grew up together around granddaddy’s farm in Lee County,SC. Great athlete in HS and Presbyterian College. Was cool enough to own 1963 bright red
Impala convertible. Let me borrow for Homecoming weekend in HS, never forget., what a guy! Will surely miss wife Ann. Great couple, great people. Thinking about you and lifting you up before the Lord. Love ya cuz.

Crisp County Rebel

July 14th, 2011
10:57 am

Coach Welch was my baseball coach at Crisp County HS in 1966. He was a demanding coach, but always let you know he cared about you. He and his wife were well-liked in Cordele and I was sad to hear about her death and his serious medical condition. He will be in my daily prayers. I was blessed to have known this great man!


July 14th, 2011
11:27 am

What a man! I coached against him when he was at Dougherty and I at Crisp County. Then several years later he was at Camden County and Mark Daniel who played for him at Dougherty was with him. Then they came to Screven County and a friendship was renewed. Played a lot of golf with Luther, and talked a lot of football with Luther.

His wife was the epitome of a LADY and always conducted her self as one. She will be greatly missed.

Luther Welsh is a fighter and a winner.

God Bless All.


July 14th, 2011
11:28 am

Sadly Coach Welsh died today 7-14-11 at the hospital. After coaching 56 years and retiring just this past year at 79 he was a legend in his own time. Great coach, great man, will be missed by all who knew him.


July 14th, 2011
11:48 am

As JimR just said, Coach Welsh passed away this morning, according to an Augusta TV station. Region 1-AAAAA in South Ga remembers him well. He was one of the all time best. He will be missed.


July 14th, 2011
12:11 pm

Played for Coach Welsh in the mid 70’s at Dougherty. Taught me a lot about life, not just winning football games, but being the best you can be in everything you do. I will miss him and Mrs. Welsh.
My condolences to Lucia and the rest of the family.


July 14th, 2011
12:13 pm

MtnMama I think you’re right.

Beeeeg Boy

July 14th, 2011
12:38 pm


July 14th, 2011
12:48 pm

Together again.

Motocross Survivor

July 14th, 2011
1:11 pm

Sound like another cussin’ Christian has died.


July 14th, 2011
1:33 pm

I’ve never had the honor of meeting this man, considering I’m from Ohio, but from the story and all these comments he must’ve been a truly loved and respected man. My heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to the family during this difficult time.


July 14th, 2011
1:34 pm

sounds like this gentleman passed away of a broken heart more than anything else. being married now for 37 years I don’t know what I would do without my Chrissy. But today at this moment they are hand in hand again in the Lords Kingdom.


July 14th, 2011
1:38 pm

Correction to the tagline on the main page – Thomson is not in south GA. It’s really fairly level with Atlanta, located off I-20 in eastern Georgia.


July 14th, 2011
1:38 pm


July 14th, 2011
1:44 pm

Wow, never knew the gentleman, but anyone who dedicates his life to young people deserves our respect. I would have really enjoyed the opportunity to simply sit and just listen to him tell stories. We need to remember when we lose an Elder we all lose something.


July 14th, 2011
2:03 pm

My prayers are with the Welsh family and the Thompson High School family. For years we (Burke County) hated his guts as a fierce rival. Off the field you might not have met a more caring leader of young men. The state of Georgia has lost a true coaching legend and he will be missed for some time. From the Burke County faithful we send our condolences.

Becky Kramer-Wells

July 14th, 2011
2:05 pm

Our prayers are with you!!! I attended Thomson High School and Coach Welsh is the reason The Bulldogs are where they are today! We will miss you!


July 14th, 2011
2:05 pm

Giving in only one week after his wife’s death….IT DOES NOT GET ANY COOLER THAN THAT.

Peace, Luther!


July 14th, 2011
2:09 pm

I had the privilege of playing for him for 3 years. He taught me a lot about hard work and the rewards that comes with it.


July 14th, 2011
2:23 pm

The fans at Valdosta High wish to pay tribute to a great
ol’ competitor. Condolences to the family. Lost a legend.

Craig Spinks/ Augusta

July 14th, 2011
2:44 pm

Coach was reunited today with The Love of His Life in A Better Place.

Todd Holcomb

July 14th, 2011
2:49 pm

Coach Welsh’s first head coaching job was at Warrenton in 1955, same year that Fran Tarkenton was leading Athens High to a state title as a junior. Not sure why, but Welsh left Warrenton and was not a head coach again until 1968 at Dougherty. …

Welsh won his first state title in 1984 w/ Jerry Mays. His last came in 2002, a team that probably set a record for most rushing yards in a season. I believe it was over 5,000 yards.


July 14th, 2011
3:04 pm

Didn’t know Coach Welsh but he will be missed throughout the State of Georgia. From what I have h eard the man was of great character. Coach Welsh God has called you home.


July 14th, 2011
3:04 pm

My God rest his soul! My prayers are with his loved ones. Usually when a spouse dies after many years of marriage, the widow or widower follows. This is truly sad.