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Michael J. Diggins, longtime teacher and coach; Jan. 8, 1943 -- May 11, 2012

Michael J. Diggins of South Buffalo, a leading Catholic high school track coach, died Friday in Mercy Hospital. He was 69.

As a coach from 1983 to 2005 at St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute, his teams won 16 All-Catholic cross country championships, 13 in a row, and 15 All-Catholic track championships. His cross country teams had 16 undefeated seasons, while his track teams had 12 perfect years.

He was inaugurated into the St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

Born in Buffalo, he was a 1960 graduate of Bishop Timon High School and was a standout runner at Mississippi State University. He earned his master's degree from Niagara University.

He was a member of Mississippi State's Southeastern Conference championship cross country and track teams in 1962 and was named the college's outstanding senior cross country runner in 1965.

Mr. Diggins was a health and physical education teacher at Bishop Turner High School and St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute for 40 years, retiring in 2006. He also coached at Bishop Fallon High School and Turner.

He received the Jack Donohue 5K Community Service Award in 2007 and was honorary starter for the Timon Fall Challenge in 2009. He was honored by Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School with its Judge John D. Hillery Award in 2011.

Surviving are his wife of 39 years, the former Maureen H. Purcell; a son, Tim; and two daughters, Maryellen Burger and Julie.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11:15 a.m. Friday in St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church, 1140 Abbott Road.

[ANDERSON]