Ray Haley, Larkin's first AD and football coach, dies at 92
When friends and family gather next month to remember the life of Ray Haley, they will tell stories of a man who, first and foremost, was respected in every way.
Haley, 92, passed away June 18.
He was the first athletic director and head football coach at Larkin High School, coming to the Elgin school when it opened in 1962 after teaching and coaching at East Aurora.
"I'm so glad I was able to play for him," said Fred Didier, the quarterback of Haley's 1979 Larkin team that made the Class 5A state semifinals before losing to eventual state champion East St. Louis.
"He was a great coach but a better person and a very decent man in every way."
Haley coached at Larkin from 1962 to 1990. His 28-year record was 151-99-3. He coached teams that won or shared five Upstate Eight Conference Championships (1967, '69, '73, '79, and '80). Twice he coached teams to 9-0 regular-season records and three times he led Larkin into the state playoffs. He coached three high school All-Americans and 11 All-Staters.
He was the athletic director for 21 years during a period which oversaw the tremendous growth in both girls and boys sports at Larkin. He was a charter member of the board of the Elgin Sports Hall of Fame Foundation and was inducted into the hall in 1992.
Haley was born Dec. 24, 1928, in Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, Mo. He was a veteran and served in the Army during the Korean War.
He was a standout athlete in high school and college and at 16 was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. He played with both the Cardinals and Yankees organizations in the minor leagues.
He graduated from Southwest Missouri State University where he played football. He was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 1977, having his jersey retired in 2010.
He was inducted into the Illinois Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1986.
In his later years, Haley still managed to see some Larkin games, where he watched his grandsons play.
"My boys played for St. Charles North and I would see him at Larkin games four to five years ago," Didier said. "I got to speak to him about a month ago. We shared some wonderful memories."
Didier, who was Larkin's JV coach under Haley in 1985, said one thing that stood out to him was how humble Haley was.
"I never knew what a great athlete Coach was," said Didier, who played football at Wheaton College. "When I was at Larkin, we never knew about Coach playing baseball with the Cardinals and Yankees. That's how he was. Just very humble.
"He was, as a coach and person, just very steady, strong, reliable and consistent. I'm thankful I had Coach Haley as my coach. I really admired Coach Haley."
Haley was preceded in death by his wife, Donna, whom he married in 1956; and a sister, Juanita Dawson.
A celebration of his life will be held with visitation from 9 to 11 a.m. and a service immediately following July 10 at the First United Methodist Church, Elgin. Burial will be private at the National Cemetery in Springfield, Mo. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the First United Methodist Church, Elgin, and the Elgin Sports Hall of Fame Foundation.