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Funeral set for ex-St. Thomas FB coach DuWayne Deitz

Funeral set for ex-St. Thomas FB coach DuWayne Deitz

Funeral services will be held Aug. 30 at Mount Olivet Church in south Minneapolis for former St. Thomas head football coach and educator DuWayne Deitz, who died this week at age 87. Visitation at Mount Olivet is from 3-5 p.m., preceding the 5 p.m. services.

Deitz served for 11 seasons as head football coach at St. Thomas (1970-80) -- the second longest tenure (with current coach Glenn Caurso) in program history behind 12-year coaches Frank Deig and Nate Harlan. Deitz' teams won two conference co-championships. He also was an instructor in the university's Health and Human Performance Department.

A standout student-athlete at Minneapolis Southwest High, Deitz served with distinction with the U.S. Marines during the Korean conflict and was awarded a Purple Heart and a Presidential Unit Citation. He came to St. Thomas and was a standout player for St. Thomas near the end of Coach Frank Deig's era in the 1950s. In football as an offensive tackle he was named to the Catholic All-American team in 1954. Deitz also won an MIAC shot put championship for the Tommies.

He started his teaching and coaching career at Minneapolis Marshall High from 1956-62, and coached football, wrestling and track and field. He was named a Minneapolis City Coach of the Year in 1961. Deitz enjoyed a successful run as head coach at White Bear Lake High (1962-69) with a 50-18-4 record, capped by conference championships in 1968 and 1969. His 1968 team was ranked No. 2 in the state after its unbeaten, untied season.

Deitz came back to St. Thomas coach in 1970. He took over a program that won just three games the previous two seasons but built a 9-1 record by his fourth season. Deitz was named MIAC Coach of the Year in 1973 when his team ended a 16-year MIAC title drought and shared the crown with Minnesota-Duluth. He was named MIAC and NAIA District Coach of the Year in 1979 after his Tommies stunned favored St. John's in the season finale, 30-0, thus creating the only four-way tie for the league championship in the 96-year history of MIAC football. The 30-point victory still ranks as the Toms' second largest home-field winning margin over the Johnnies in the last 95 years.

Deitz said that his 1979 season "was probably the most frustrating but also most rewarding" in his coaching era. The team came into the season trying to cope with a player's death, some injuries, and a few starters who decided in late summer not to return. The Toms started 1-2, including a close loss at the University of South Dakota. A 4-0 home record and a closing four-game winning streak helped made it a special season. "We lacked depth, yet we had some freshmen that came through for us," Deitz told the Aquin in a 1979 story. That freshman class included future NFL wide receiver Jim Gustafson, who caught a touchdown pass in the final minute in Moorhead, the difference in a 21-17 win over the Cobbers.

Gustafson was one of four of Deitz' players who were later chosen for the St. Thomas Athletic Hall of Fame, joining Mark Dienhart, an All-American and Academic All-American offensive lineman; his own son, Doug Deitz; and Tim Fischer.

Dienhart replaced Deitz as Tommie head coach in 1981. Deitz remained as an instructor in the Health and Human Performance Department here until his retirement in 1997.

DuWayne's wife of 60 years, Lois, passed away in 2014. All four of their children -- Dan, Doug, Dave and Lori -- graduated from St. Thomas. He was able to coach his oldest son Dan, a defensive back, and Doug, a standout quarterback. Son Dave had a career-ending knee injury as a freshman.

Deitz was a member of the White Bear Lake High Athleic Hall of Fame and the Minnesota Old Timers Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He also served in White Bear Lake as a member of the school board from 1981 to 1984.

Deitz was honored here during ceremonies at a 2009 Tommie football game. He said that day, "I certainly have many great memories. We were conference co-champions twice, and I wish we could have been champions more often. But I get satisfaction out of coming back and seeing my former players and seeing what they're doing in their personal and professional lives. That's what it's all about."

The coach is survived by his daughter, three sons, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.