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Alden athletics icon Harrison 'Harry' Hill dies at age 79

Alden coach Harry Hill watches the action during a 1982 game vs. JFK. (News file photo)

The Alden community lost an iconic member over the weekend.

Former athletic director and football coach Harrison “Harry” Hill passed away Saturday in his South Carolina home about two months short of his 80th birthday.

Hill was an Alden lifer, graduating from the high school in the 1950s and returning to coach the Bulldogs football team for 40 years. He retired in the mid-1990s, handing the football program over to current Alden Superintendent Adam Stoltman in the fall of 1995, and was inducted into the school’s Wall of Fame in 2002.

“He was just an absolute icon in Alden and Alden athletics serving as AD for 20-plus years,” said Stoltman, also adding Hill coached wrestling and track. “He did it all, anything that needed to be done, but his passion and longtime commitment was definitely to the football program. As a former football coach, it’s unheard of now to coach for 10-15 years, but he did it for his whole career.”

Hill, who attended a few football games this past season, was also instrumental in the growth of Section VI football as a whole.

“He was a key member of the Section VI football committee along with the late Chuck Funke to help get Section VI football where it is today,” Stoltman said. “With Title IX in the early '70s and equality, he was also a big proponent of that and moving forward female athletics in Alden.”

Hill spent his entire four-decade career serving the students in Alden as a teacher, coach and AD. He was also very active with the Erie County Interscholastic Conference, serving as president at one point.

In addition to his work in the school district, Hill served as the town’s recreation director and coordinated summer activities for kids.

Stoltman said Hill’s family is holding a service in South Carolina, where he spent his winters, and plans on organizing a remembrance in Western New York sometime in the spring.

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