Retired Hall of Fame high school coach Gus Garcia passes

Gus Garcia, retired high school coach who guided his wrestlers to multiple top-ten finishes at the Kansas state championships on his way to being welcomed into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame 15 years ago, died Wednesday, June 5 at age 80.

Gus Garcia
Son of Mexican immigrants, Rosalio "Gus" Garcia made his mark as a coach at two Kansas high schools, Atwood and Augusta. At Atwood, Garcia guided his wrestlers to a state team title and had 12 teams finish in the top 10. Garcia then moved on to Augusta, which had seven top 10 team finishes at the state level. It was there that he coached his two sons to a combined six state medals, including an individual championship for Gus Garcia Jr., and a second-place medal for his son Gabe Garcia.

In his combined coaching career at Atwood and Augusta high schools, Garcia coached 21 state champions, 27 runners-up, 16 third-place medalists and 19 fourth-place medalists.

Following his retirement from Augusta High, Garcia resumed his coaching career at Maize Middle School.

"He was a good friend, supporter and colleague," former Augusta teacher and coach Pat Paske, whose friendship with Garcia goes back to 1975, told the Leavenworth Times. "Not only did he prepare in detail, but he had the ability to get kids to achieve things that even they didn't think they could do. He cared about his athletes and his family, and expected and accepted nothing but their best."

Prior to launching his coaching career, Douglass, Kansas-born Garcia made a name for himself as a wrestler. Upon graduation from Douglass High, he joined the United States Marines, where he was on the Marine wrestling team for three years. Upon discharge from the Marines, Gus attended Kansas State University, where he was a three-year wrestling letterman for the Wildcats and was a third-place Big Eight medalist for their now-defunct mat program.

Garcia is credited with helping to establish the Kansas Kids Wrestling Foundation, and took a youth freestyle team to Iran in 1974.

In 2004, Gus Garcia became a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Okla. when he received the Lifetime Service to Wrestling award from the Kansas Chapter of the Hall of Fame.

According to his obituary, a Celebration of Life service has yet to be announced. However, in the meantime, memorials in Gus Garcia's honor may be sent for the Gene Nunz Scholarship Fund, which benefits Augusta High School wrestlers. These can be mailed to Forbes-Hoffman Funeral Home, P.O. Box 374, Parsons, KS 67357.


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