Alden George had a deep love for North Lamar ISD and its students, to which his decades with the school system as a teacher and coach stand as a testament. On Thursday, the community figure passed away. He was 80 years old.
Originally hailing from West Texas, George excelled at football in high school and earned a full ride scholarship to Texas Western University, now known as the University of Texas El Paso, to play the sport, daughter Heather Moore said.
George performed well enough in collegiate football that in 1961, he was able to sign with the NFL Minnesota Vikings as a free agent. Unfortunately, injuries halted his professional football career.
After that, he moved back to El Paso, where he taught and coached football at a high school for nine years.
Eventually, he moved to Cooper in the early 1970s, where his parents then lived, when his father fell into poor health. While in Cooper, he worked for a time in the cattle business, but knew the profession wasn’t for him, Moore said.
“He missed coaching and teaching,” she said. “He knew that’s what he wanted to do.”
In 1973, George joined the staff at North Lamar High School, and that’s where he stayed for the next 44 years.
He taught keyboarding and typing, business law and other classes over the year, and he spent time coaching on every athletic team except tennis and golf at some point. In particular, he served for many years as the head coach of the football, softball and baseball teams. He also served as the district’s first athletic trainer.
He achieved success on the field, taking the softball team to the UIL State Playoffs five times, and took the baseball team on deep playoff runs, Moore said.
However, as Moore said, George believed the wins and losses were secondary to the life lessons he wanted to teach students.
North Lamar Athletic Director Aaron Emeyabbi said George had the ability to adapt his coaching style for different students.
“Great coaches adapt to who they’re coaching,” Emeyabbi said. “Some kids need an iron fist to guide them and others need to be guided like a soft glove.”
Moore said he had a sense of humor that endeared him to students and co-workers alike, adding George had a special fondness for pranks. Once, George took a paddle and called a student out into the hall, making classmates think he was about to paddle the boy. However, when they were out in the hall, George told the boy he was going to slap the paddle against his shoe, and he wanted the boy to cry out as if he was getting spanked.
“He had all the teachers poking their heads out of their classrooms to see what was going on,” Moore said with a laugh.
Moore felt a great deal of love for North Lamar and its students, and Moore said that left an indelible impact on students.
“We’ve had former students come by and the one thing they all remember is how caring he was,” she said. “It didn’t matter who you were, he would’ve given you the shirt off his back if you needed it, and he wouldn’t have thought twice about it.”
Moore recalled an instance in the early 1980s, during a track meet, when a tornado warning forced everyone to run into North Lamar High School, which today serves as Stone Middle School. George ran through the storm, scooping up kids to make sure they were safe.
“Imagine him, 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, sprinting down the field and scooping up kids and holding them in his arms like footballs. And he made multiple trips to make sure he got them all.”
Moore said some of his former students came by and admitted George was the reason they pursued careers in coaching or sports medicine.
“They say a teacher can impact more children’s lives in a year than most people can in a lifetime, and he taught for a lot of years,” Emeyabbi said.
“Seeing the outpouring of support from all the people whose lives he touched, has been overwhelming,” Moore said. “I don’t have words for how much it’s meant.”
North Lamar showed its appreciation to George earlier this year, by naming a street on the district’s campus in his honor.
“I’m glad we were able to do that gesture for him, to show him how much he meant to us,” Emeyabbi said.
In 2001, George retired from teaching and coaching, though he stayed with North Lamar, performing a number of roles such as as a facilities manager, managing the timer in volleyball matches and basketball games and other duties, until his full retirement in 2015.
Even after his full retirement, George could often be found and Panther sporting events, Moore said.
“He loved his family, he loved his students and he loved North Lamar,” Moore said. “He bled blue and gold.”