|High-profile friends and supporters of football coach Bill Walsh paid final visits over the weekend, and two presented him a special award.
Walsh, 75, died late Monday morning at his home in Woodside following more than a nine-month battle with leukemia.
Two of the visitors, former Stanford football coach Tyrone Willingham and Stanford benefactor John Arrillaga, on Sunday presented Walsh with the prestigious Stagg Award in recognition of his contributions to football.
Former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana visited Walsh on Friday, followed on Saturday by TV announcer and former coach John Madden and Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis.
Walsh was an integral part of the Stanford Athletic community who guided the San Francisco 49ers to three Super Bowl championships and six NFC West division titles in his 10 years as head coach.
Walsh was as gracious with his time as he was genius at his work. Deeply imbedded in the Stanford athletic community, Walsh's first head coaching position was on The Farm in 1977. His final coaching position was also at Stanford, in 1993-94.
Walsh never stopped working and still kept an office at Stanford even as the leukemia advanced. When he stepped aside from a successful NFL career, Walsh returned once again to familiar surroundings on Stanford's campus. He never left.
Walsh died peacefully at his home in Woodside, with his family by his side.
Most of the world knows Walsh because of what he accomplished with the San Francisco 49ers. But there are countless others in the Stanford community who were touched by him and his dedication to football and life, colleagues recalled.
Walsh served many roles at Stanford, including head football coach, athletic director, special advisor to the athletic director and general consultant.
Mostly he was just a friend. His office doors at Stanford remained open to just about anyone interested in gaining his perspective. He selflessly shared his time and knowledge, carefully designing a message of success and achievement, according to his friends.
While known as an offensive genius, with a system that became known as the "West Coast Offense," Walsh began his college career as a defensive assistant at University of California under Marv Levy and Stanford under John Ralston. He switched to offensive when Al Davis hired him as an Oakland Raiders assistant. He began perfecting his system with the Cincinnati Bengals under Paul Brown.
When he became head coach at Stanford in 1977, he finally received his opportunity to put his system into operation. Quarterback Guy Benjamin, receiver James Lofton and running back Darrin Nelson were perfectly suited to Walsh's system.
Nelson was not only Stanford's leading rusher in Stanford's 24-14 win over Louisiana State in the 1977 Sun Bowl, he was also the leading receiver.
Lofton was the big-play receiver that predated the Jerry Rices and John Taylors of Walsh's system.
And Benjamin had the pinpoint accuracy Walsh desired of his quarterbacks. He was 23-of-36 for 269 yards without an interception and with three TD passes.
Walsh also showed his penchant for defense that first season at Stanford, utilizing the skills of linebacker Gordy Ceresino, his best defensive player, for maximum effectiveness.
In 1978 Walsh implemented his system all over again with new faces: quarterback Steve Dils, wide receiver Ken Margerum joining Nelson and Ceresino and kicker Ken Naber.
Stanford beat Georgia, 25-22, in the Bluebonnet Bowl. Walsh showed he was no fluke. Dils was the game's Offensive MVP (17-for-28, 210 yards, no interceptions and three touchdowns) and Ceresino was the Defensive MVP.
The Bluebonnet Bowl also showed off what became a staple of Walsh's coaching career. The Cardinal roared back from a 22-0 deficit. Stanford scored 25 points within a 6:13 period of the second half. Everything that he became known for was there when Walsh started at Stanford 30 years ago.
He was hired by the 49ers for the 1979 season and the rest of his professional career has been extensively documented.
He coached the 49ers to the Super Bowl XIX title at Stanford on Jan. 20, 1985.
After retiring from the NFL he returned for a second stint at Stanford, guiding the 1992 team to a 10-3 mark, a No. 9 ranking in the final poll, and a victory in the 1993 Blockbuster Bowl.
Walsh sustained two consecutive losing seasons in 1993-94, although he did recruit the players who were the foundation of the 1995 Liberty Bowl and 1996 Sun Bowl teams.
Walsh returned to the 49ers in a front office position, but after an ownership change, he came back to Stanford to stay.
While Walsh appreciated all the attention he got from winning bowl games, he was able to share the success among his assistant coaches, administrations and players. Walsh understood the value of "team."
In recent years, Walsh did a bit of everything at Stanford, from fund raising to serving as interim athletic director when Ted Leland left late in 2005.
In 2004, Walsh shared part of himself with members of the Palo Alto community, when he described the major stroke his wife, Geri, suffered in 1999, while speaking extemporaneously at a Peninsula Stroke Association luncheon in Palo Alto.
Apologizing for being hesitant, he told for the first time publicly of how she suddenly was transformed from an active, athletic person into someone needing near-constant care. He urged people to become aware of "stroke attacks" and the need to get victims of such attacks to a recognized stroke center within the first few hours.
Walsh is survived by Geri; a son, Craig; a daughter, Elizabeth; a sister, Maureen; a daughter-in-law, Kim; grandchildren Samantha and Nathan; and brother-in-law, Ed. Another son, Steve, an ABC News reporter, died of leukemia at age 46 in 2002.
Funeral services for Walsh are pending.
Photo gallery: Remembering Bill Walsh
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