Walt Harvey, whose firm and folksy touch resonated with generations of San Diego-area athletes and future coaches, passed away Feb. 7 at age 95.
A memorial will be held at noon Saturday, Feb. 22, at La Vida Real, where Harvey resided the last several years.
La Vida Real is located at 11588 Via Rancho San Diego, El Cajon Ca., 92019.
Samuel Walter Harvey was born in San Diego and attended John Adams elementary, Wilson Junior High, and graduated from Hoover in 1936.
“He never forgot a name, a face, or a particular play in a game,” said Tom Whelan, quarterback of Crawford’s 1961 championship team . “He was amazing. Even when he developed health issues we got to see him and it was a special time.”
Harvey was so admired that former students and players from La Jolla, Lincoln, and Crawford regularly joined the coach for lunch several times a year at Harvey’s retirement residence.
Harvey was a starting end on the 1935 Hoover Cardinals team coached by John Perry that won the Bay League championship, posted a 7-1-1 record, and defeated rival San Diego for the first time.
A loss to Pasadena Muir in the first round of the playoffs didn’t diminish Hoover’s only unbeaten regular season in the school’s 85-season history.
Harvey was a starting member of the 1938 San Diego State football team that won the conference title and he was a standout in track with a best time of :09.8 for 100 yards.
Walt’s first coaching position came after World War II at Holtville, where he “coached everything and drove the school bus.”
Harvey moved to La Jolla in 1948 and became the Vikings’ head coach in 1950. His 1951 and ’52 teams were a combined 15-4 and the 1952 squad reached the semifinals of the Southern California playoffs.
A 7-6 victory over San Diego in 1951 was one of four victories by San Diego County squads in the 12 seasons Duane Maley coached at San Diego high.
Harvey’s 1953 baseball team went to the Southern California finals before bowing, 2-1, to Compton.
Harvey took over the start-up Lincoln program the following September and guided it to varsity status in 1954. Lincoln’s 1956 team was 5-2-1 and battled San Diego and Hoover for City Prep League supremacy.
Lincoln tied with Hoover and San Diego for the CPL dual-meet championship in track in 1957 and Harvey coached Lincoln’s first state track champion, Luther Hayes, who won the broad jump at Berkeley in 1957.
Harvey moved on from Lincoln and began another construction project when Crawford opened in September, 1957.
His 1961 Colts team was 8-0-2 and won the San Diego Section championship. Harvey was named he area’s Coach of the Year at the annual St. Augustine Appreciation Night.
Walt retired from coaching after the 1961 season, then returned to coach the Colts from 1966-68.