Longtime Henderson County JC coach Bob Baccarini passes away

FORMER HENDERSON COUNTY JC football coach Bob Baccarini tosses the coin before the homecoming game in 2008 at Bruce Field in Athens, just a few hours after he was inducted in the Cardinal Hall of Fame.

Louis Francis “Bob” Baccarini, who led Henderson County Junior College football to its first national fame, passed away on Saturday at Hospice Home Place in Tyler.

He was 87.

Baccarini served as a football coach at HCJC (now Trinity Valley Community College in Athens) for 12 years, from 1960 to 1971. He was the head football coach from 1964 to 1971.

During Baccarini’s tenure as head coach, the Cardinals made four bowl appearances. In his second year leading the Cardinals, he led the school to the Junior Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., where it defeated Pasadena City College 40-13 and was named the No. 1 team in the nation.

In 1965, Baccarini was named the Junior College Coach of the Year by the Texas Sports Writers Association. The following year, he was given the same honor by the Dallas Morning News.

Baccarini led the Cardinals to four consecutive Texas Junior College Football Association Conference titles. In 1996, he was named to the National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame.

His record as a Cardinals head coach was 55-27-1.

“Sadly, we have lost one of the college’s most iconic figures,” Benny Rogers, TVCC sports information officer, said. “Coach Bob was more than a former head football coach at the college. He was a lifelong ambassador and brought much good will our way.

“A good and decent man is gone. We will miss him.”

He played football at Oklahoma A&M University (now Oklahoma State) before being drafted into the armed services.

He served in the Air Force until the end of World War II. He later played at Bacone College and graduated from Central State University in 1950. He received his master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1960.

Baccarini was one of the first inductees into the Cardinal Hall of Fame. He was a member of First Baptist Church of Athens for more than 50 years.

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Bennye; daughter, Suzan and husband Tommy Stutts, Athens; son, Tony Baccarini and wife Jackie, Keller; grandchildren, Meghan Haynes and husband David, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Beau Stutts and wife Beth, Azle; Zane Stutts, Austin; Brayden, Bryce and Blair Baccarini, Keller; and four great-grandchildren.

Visitation is today from 6 to 8 p.m. at Carroll-Lehr Funeral Home in Athens.

Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday at First Baptist Church in Athens with Dr. Kyle Henderson and Dr. Bill Pemberton officiating.

Private burial will follow in Oaklawn Memorial Park.

A reception immediately follows the services.

If desired, donations may be made to TVCC Foundation, Coach Bob Baccarini Endowment Scholarship Fund, 100 Cardinal Drive, Athens, 75751; or The Hospice of East Texas Foundation, 4111 University Blvd., Tyler, 75701.

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