June 12, 1938 - Feb. 9, 2018
Al N. Mudd Jr. spent most of his life involved in Buffalo Public School sports, coaching teams for three decades.
After playing quarterback for four years at Kensington High School, he became a football coach at Seneca Vocational High School in 1961.
For 30 years, "Doc," as his players often called him because he doubled as the team's trainer, worked in close partnership with fellow coach John Grunzweig. Officially, Grunzweig, who died in 2002, was the head coach and Mr. Mudd was the assistant, but Mr. Mudd's son said they were really co-coaches.
"John ran the defense, my dad ran the offense," Michael Mudd said.
Mr. Mudd died Friday in his Amherst home after a 4 1/2-year battle with colon cancer. He was 79.
"Even though I was his assistant, I was never made to feel like one. It was our team," Mr. Mudd said in Grunzweig's Buffalo News obituary.
Whatever the arrangement was, it brought Seneca five Harvard Cup championships, including three in a row from 1969-71 and subsequent titles in 1977 and 1979.
"To this day, his former players call him Doc," said his son, who is athletic director at Worcester State University in Massachusetts.
Mr. Mudd had many chances to take higher-paying jobs at suburban schools with better facilities, but he never did.
"He wanted to stay with the inner-city kids, the tough kids," his son recalled. "He was a city kid through and through."
Born in Buffalo, Mr. Mudd graduated from Kensington in 1956. He earned a bachelor's degree in education from the University at Buffalo in 1961 and a master's degree in education from UB in 1966.
He also served in the Army Reserve in the 1950s.
Besides football, Mr. Mudd, who had been captain of the tennis team at Kensington, coached that sport as well as girls' basketball and swimming in the Buffalo schools. He also taught "learn to swim" classes for special needs students in the 1970s at Buffalo State College.
When he moved to Amherst, Mr. Mudd took a hand in youth sports there, too. He was the manager of Amherst Youth Hockey Association teams that won national championships in 1981 and 1983, and he was assistant coach of a Mel Ott Little League team that won a district title in 1982.
But his heart was on Buffalo gridirons, where he made the career that brought him enshrinement in the Harvard Cup Hall of Fame in 2004.
"He was really upset when they got rid of the Harvard Cup," Michael Mudd said.
In 2010, when the city championship game was abolished in favor of letting Buffalo schools compete in sectional playoffs, Mr. Mudd wrote a letter to The News decrying what he called a "devastating" decision.
Besides his son, survivors include his wife of 56 years, the former Sally Ann Heeb; a daughter, Jennifer Dimitroff; two brothers, Paul and Thomas; a sister, Susan Ahrens; and six grandchildren.
Services will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14 in Lombardo Funeral Home, 885 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst, after a wake that begins at 3 p.m.