Legendary UH football coach Dick Tomey passes away

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Legendary former University of Hawaii head football coach Dick Tomey passed away on Friday night from lung cancer.

Below is a release from the Tomey family.

{TUCSON, AZ, May 11, 2019} It is with great sadness that we share the news of Dick Tomey’s death on May 10, 2019 @ 9:30pm. He died surrounded by his family, resting peacefully, after battling lung cancer for months. We are all heartbroken to lose him, but are forever grateful to have shared his life.

To us, Dick Tomey was one of a kind. Known for his room-for-everyone big-heartedness, generous spiritedness (to a fault), instinctive kindness, love and respect for people of all walks, and the ease with which he forgave himself and others and moved on with life without resentments—taught all of us so much. Dick Tomey was never petty, never small minded. He was a man who discovered his mission in life, embraced it, enjoyed it, and accomplished amazing things. When speaking of football, he often said, “Football is not complicated. People are.” He was always, first and foremost, a people person.

On the football field he was a tough as nails coach, who loved fierce competition and the thrill of team-building. He loved his players, every single one of them—always. He was hard on them. He constantly raised the bar. He could do that because he knew how to find the goodness and the talent in people. If he didn’t find it immediately, he kept looking until he did, and once he found goodness/talent he never lost sight of it. He expressed his admiration and raised his expectations—and watched both things multiply. Just that gift alone changed lives, including some of ours. When it came to football, Dick Tomey had an eye for undiscovered ability, an eye for raw potential, an eye for leadership—and a deep regard for guys who walked on, who sacrificed to play the game simply because they loved it. He was never afraid to be the underdog coach, with the underdog team… in fact, he was partial to taking his underdog team(s) in to play the moneyed power schools… and his teams won their share of those games. 

Off the field Dick was a beautiful human being. His was a loving spirit. He was a natural leader, a natural teacher. His gift of oratory was legendary. Nearly everyone who knew him can quote Dick Tomey on some subject. Words were his most powerful tool (even his profanity was eloquent). When he spoke he made listeners out of non-listeners, believers out of non-believers. He lifted, he challenged, he inspired. He could change the way a person thought about life, about the world around him, and the person would be better for the change. His own family is proof of that.

Dick Tomey never aspired to fame or fortune. As a young man he dreamed of coaching junior high football. His long career included its share of hard knocks and frustrations, but he insisted, “I wouldn’t change a thing.” It was his selflessness and dedication to the common good that always propelled him forward.

As a family we rarely talk about how many games Dick Tomey won—we talk about how many hearts he won… including all of ours.

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A Celebration of Life will be announced at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the Dick Tomey Legacy Fund has been established through the Positive Coaching Alliance (501c3). 100% of these funds will go directly to providing scholarships and programing for underserved youth in the markets where Dick spent the majority of his years in the community as the Head Football Coach.

Visit www.positivecoach.org/TomeyFund to designate the Hawaii, Arizona, or Bay Area Chapter as the beneficiary of your donation to the Dick Tomey Legacy Fund

Thank you to everyone for your love and support during this tough time.

– The Tomey Family

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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