June 15, 2010

Hugh John Devore

Hugh Devore was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, and was a three-sport star at the city's St. Benedict's Prep. While playing on the freshman squad in 1930, Devore caught the legendary Knute Rockne's eye during an intrasquad scrimmage and recruited into Notre Dame. Unfortunately, Devore never had the opportunity to play for Rockne in an official game after the coach was killed in a plane crash on March 31, 1931. During his three years as a member of the Fighting Irish varsity, Devore played at end under Hunk Anderson, serving as co-captain during his senior year in 1933. Upon graduating from the school, Devore stayed at Notre Dame the following year as freshman football coach, then followed fellow Irish alum Jim Crowley as line coach at Fordham University in 1935.

Following three seasons in that role, made famous by his coaching Fordham's iconic "Seven Blocks of Granite" a unit that included future Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi, he accepted his first head coaching position when he was hired at Providence College on January 20, 1938. After his fourth season with the Friars, Devore then took an assistant coaching position with Holy Cross College on January 11, 1942. His one year at the school was marked by his expert scouting leading to a stunning 55-12 upset of the Eagles in the season finale. Devore then returned to his alma mater as ends coach the following year. When Irish head coach Frank Leahy entered the U.S. Navy in early 1944, Edward McKeever was named interim head coach, but when McKeever accepted the head coaching slot at Cornell University, Devore took his place. Notre Dame started that season in strong fashion with five straight wins and was ranked second in the nation, but a 48-0 thrashing by a potent Army squad ended hopes of a national title. Upon Leahy's return, Devore was under consideration for the head coaching position at the University of Arkansas, but instead signed to lead St. Bonaventure College. In his first three years, Devore led his teams to a 19-5-1 record, an effort that earned him a new three-year contract. Yet after one season, Devore announced his resignation on February 2, 1950 to accept the head coaching position at New York University, citing the proximity to his New Jersey roots.

He had entered the job in hopes of improving the fortunes of the once-powerful program which had struggled after years of neglect and strict academic standards that had led to a severe downturn. The effort went for naught when after three years of trying, the school announced on March 10, 1953 that it was dropping its football program after 80 seasons, leaving Devore looking for work. Less than a month later, he found employment at the professional level for the first time as an assistant with the NFL's Green Bay Packers. That role lasted only one season before he returned to the colleges as head coach at the University of Dayton on January 6, 1954. After two seasons with the Flyers, homesickness pangs once again led him to accept the position of head coach of the NFL Eagles on January 9, 1956. Devore struggled during his two seasons, which led to hiss firing on January 11, 1958. He quickly found work again at Notre Dame as freshman coach and assistant athletic director.

On February 9, 1966, he was hired as an assistant coach for the American Football League's Houston Oilers. After five years in that capacity, Devore then went to work as promotions director for the Houston Sports Association, dealing primarily with bringing in events for the city's Astrodome. He continued working until his retirement at the age of 75 in 1986. Health issues led Devore to move in with his daughter in August 1992, and four months later he died, nearly two weeks after his 82nd birthday.

Note
Hugh Devore was the grandfather of professional wrestlers Russ and Charlie Haas.

GPS Coordinates
29° 46.991, -095° 36.971

Section 2
Memorial Oaks Cemetery
Houston

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