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Family, former players remember late Paintsville football coach

By: Tanner Hesterberg Email
By: Tanner Hesterberg Email
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PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - A well-known Eastern Kentucky football coach died Wednesday.

Walter Brugh, who coached Paintsville High School for nearly 40 years, died early Wednesday morning. He was 87.

"He made Paintsville football into something that was not only respected, but it was feared," said Bill Mike Runyon, who played and coached under Brugh and is now basketball coach at PHS. "He was not only an icon in the sport of football, he was an icon to every kid that ever played for him."

Brugh also played for the Tigers. His high school career was interrupted when he was drafted to fight in World War II.

"He stayed his time there, came back on a Thursday and played the ballgame Friday night," said Brugh's daughter, Beth Slone.

The discipline Brugh learned in the military carried over to the classroom and football field.

Paul Sheets, who played for Brugh and later coached under him, remembered Brugh's first day teaching at PHS.

"He paddled me and Lynn Franklin Hamilton," Sheets said. "When we got out of school that afternoon we went to football practice and Frank said, 'God, coach, what'd you whip us for? We didn't do anything?' And he said, 'I know, but I just wanted the rest of them to know how tough I am.'"

Brugh went 280-136-5 in 39 seasons at the Paintsville helm.

When he retired following the 1994 season, Brugh was the all-time winningest coach in Kentucky football history. He currently ranks 11th.

"He had an opportunity to go coach at Johnson Central at one time and asked us kids what we thought," Slone said. "And we said, 'Well, you can go on, but we're not going.'"

Brugh's wife, Nancy, died in 2011. He leaves behind four children and four grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements have not been made.

Brugh was battling illness and died of natural causes.

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