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Mourners say farewell to Harding coach Bubba



Published: Mon, January 28, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Those who knew him said he was a teacher first and then a coach.

By DOUG CHAPIN

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

WARREN -- For the second time in less than six months, Warren said good-bye to one of its sports heroes.

Calling hours were held Sunday for Warren G. Harding High basketball coach Frank Bubba.

A funeral service was scheduled for Bubba this morning at 10 at Christ Our King Catholic Church. He died Thursday of complications from pneumonia. Bubba suffered from cystic fibrosis throughout his life.

Last August, the community mourned the loss of former Warren Harding and Ohio State football standout Korey Stringer who died of heat stroke following a practice session with the Minnesota Vikings.

Ironically, Bubba died the day after plans were announced for the inaugural Korey Stringer/Outback Steakhouse Memorial Charity Classic in June. The event will combine a free youth football camp and a golf event.

Long line: At times Sunday, the line of mourners offering condolences to Bubba's widow, Ruth, snaked through the gym, out into the lobby and down the sidewalk along Atlantic Avenue to the entrance of the parking lot behind Mollenkopf Stadium.

In addition to family and friends, mourners included many members of the coaching fraternity. Bubba earned high praise from fellow coaches over the years for his approach, putting his players first.

A Farrell, Pa., native, he began his career in Warren in 1972 coaching fifth- and sixth-graders. Bubba worked his way up the ranks at Western Reserve High and then Warren Harding under John Lawhorn and Bob LaRicca.

He took over as varsity coach in 1997.

Teacher first: Bubba's reputation among fellow educators may have been even more stellar. Those who knew him said he was a teacher first and then a coach. He taught fifth grade at Alden Elementary for 18 years before transferring to Western Reserve and then Warren Harding.

His battle with cystic fibrosis demonstrated the type of individual he was, according to those who knew him closely. Bubba rarely complained about his fate and used a portable oxygen tank at practices and games.

Bubba was not shy talking about how the Raiders had set a goal of reaching the state tournament.

Warren Harding started the season 11-1, then lost Friday and Saturday under trying circumstances.

A successful run during the tournament just might be the best way for Warren to remember their coach.




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