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Rincon High School News Submitted by Alumni

Re: passing of an icon

August 1, 2011 by Virginia Pudelko (Register to contact)

Just to let you all know, Don Neff passed away recently. I am including the copy for his obit for those who may not have seen it. This man was an incredible family man, friend and teacher.
"Donald R. Neff Died at home, June 30, 2011 after an eight-and-a-half year battle with prostate cancer. He is survived by his wife, Sharron; son, Scott (Denise); two grandsons, Parker and Landon; and brothers, Dale (Peggy) of Cody, Wyoming and Dean of Tucson. He is also survived by Denise's two sons, Chris (April) Hart of Dallas, Texas and their daughter, Maya and Rodney Hart of Portland, Oregon. Don was predeceased by his son, Todd. Don was born in Hastings, Nebraska, May 26, 1938. He grew up in a family that taught him the values of hard work and initiative. He graduated with a major in geography from Hastings College, where he also played basketball. He taught in the Omaha public schools, and his first coaching job was in JV basketball at South High, where he found community sponsors for shoes and uniforms, and he convinced the school district to provide lunches for underprivileged players. He came to Tucson in 1966 to teach at Rincon High School. After receiving his master's degree from the University of Arizona, he began coaching track and field under the expert tutelage of Cody Mothershed in 1968 and became head coach in 1971. Don devoted himself to turning the Rincon team into a track and field power and the Rincon facility into the most advanced in the state. With the help of keen administrators and the tireless Cinder Club, the student group Don formed, he raised money for equipment through snack bar sales at football and basketball games, cleaning the stadium, and sponsoring track meets. His vision and hard work made the Rincon Relays a premier track event with electronic timing, all weather track, and top-notch field pits and throwing circles, bringing out the best in athletes from across Arizona. Don taught social studies and physical education with uncommon expertise and enthusiasm. He saw coaching as teaching, and on the field and in the classroom he specialized in technique, preparation, organization, and motivation. He insisted on high expectations and self-discipline, which led to personal, academic, and athletic success in all the students whose lives he touched. Don believed in his students and worked uncounted extra hours to ensure their success, and he involved students in fund-raising, off-season workouts, and field trips. He excelled at getting students and colleagues to work for common team goals and for equal opportunities for all students. He helped hundreds of ordinary as well as gifted athletes reach their potential regardless of their backgrounds. He retired from coaching in 1982 and from the classroom in 1996. In his later years he talked often and fondly about his students, athletes, and colleagues. He loved boating with his family, friends and students at Apache Lake, and for many years he maintained a boat at Kino Bay, Sonora. Donations in memory of Don may be made to the American Cancer Society or to a charity of your choice."

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