Daniel Allen Purcell, known as “Coach” passed away at the age of 92. Dan was born in Electra, Texas to Loretta and Hugh Purcell on May 1, 1925. The family moved to Houston in 1929 where he attended Christ the King Elementary School and graduated from St. Thomas High School in 1943. It was at St. Thomas that he discovered a passion for playing football. The Downtown Quarterbacks Club hosted a Houston city wide high school popular football player contest to see who sold the most war stamps and bonds. Of the eight finalists, Dan led the balloting for St. Thomas with 852,333 votes.
He served in the United States Marine Corps in the V-12 program. While stationed in Lafayette, Louisiana, he attended college at Southwestern playing on the football team. After his military tour of duty, he enrolled at the University of Houston on an athletic scholarship and played center on their first football team. He later transferred to Texas A & I in Kingsville, TX and was elected All-Conference his senior year. He graduated in 1950 with a B.S. and M.S. in Social Studies and History. Coach Bill Stages invited Dan to join the staff of his football team at W. B. Ray High School in 1950, the first year the school opened. Dan retired in 1986 being the last of the original faculty. On many occasions he commented what a privilege and honor it was to have been part of the young peoples’ lives at W. B. Ray. In 1959, Dan helped lead Ray High School to the State Championship.
In 1967 he elected to leave coaching but continued as a classroom teacher in American History and Government at Ray. At the same time, he taught night school for Corpus Christi high school students and then became Principal. In the summers of 1957 to 1964, Dan was Waterfront Director at Camp Rio Vista in Ingram, TX. He later became Recreation Director at Glendorn, a private estate in Pennsylvania the summers of 1964 to 1989. His summer children knew him as Dan, coach of swim team, archery, skeet and trap, fishing, cheer squad, confidant, mentor, “other dad” and family.
Dan was an active parishioner at St. Pius X Church. His professional organizations included Texas High School Coaching Association, CC Area Retired Teacher’s Association, St. Thomas Alumni, and W.B Ray Texan Hall of Fame. Throughout the years invitations have been numerous to attend Class Reunions at Ray which he loved to do until health did not permit. One of his greatest joys was reconnecting with students and players and sharing memories.
Dan is preceded in death by his son, Daniel Allen Purcell, Jr. and survived by his wife Barbara. The two recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary with their children and grandchildren. He is also survived by his daughter, Liz Murray (John) of Rockport, TX, son Douglas Purcell (Jane) of Richmond, TX and son Gregory Purcell (Angela) of LaFeria, TX. and cherished grandchildren – Liz’s son, Daniel, Doug and Jane’s daughter Sarah, and Greg and Angela’s daughter Whitney. He is also preceded by his parents, brother Hugh Redmond Purcell, Jr., Terrance Purcell, Richard Purcell, Robert Purcell, and Dr. James Purcell. He is survived by his brother Walter Purcell and sister Joan English.
A Rosary will be recited at 7:00 p.m. Today, March 6, 2018 at St. Pius X Catholic Church. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at St. Pius X Catholic Church. A military burial will follow at Seaside Memorial Park.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Dan Purcell Scholarship Fund, Texan Torch, P.O. Box 5080, Corpus Christi, TX 78465-5080 or St. Pius X Church, 5620 Gollihar, Corpus Christi, TX 78412.