HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hundreds of people gathered for services honoring Edward Thompson "Skippa'" Diaz at Central Union Church Friday.
The legendary former head football coach at Farrington High School died August 30 of cancer. He was 70.
The community he loved turned out to bid aloha, from former Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, to coaches and teachers from the Farrington community, along with many of Diaz's friends, former students and family.
The current Farrington varsity football team stood in front of the church to sing the Alma Mater and "Faafetai I Le Atua," a Samoan hymn that they sing before every game.
"He had a lot of mentors, and a lot of people helped him defy the odds," said state Senate President Donna Mercado Kim. "And he was one of those that benefited from all the support he got, and in return he gave it back to the community."
Kim, a Farrington alum herself, delivered the eulogy. She was one of many who said Diaz had a role that was much bigger than that of football coach.
"He helped all of the youth, youth at risk, not just the Farrington team and the Farrington kids, but throughout the island he was always there, mentoring, serving and helping. He basically gave his life to the community," she said.
Diaz succeeded current University of Hawaii head football coach Norm Chow as a coach at Waialua High School. Chow recalled visiting Diaz at Farrington on recruiting trips.
"I'd to go his classroom, and he had a special ed classroom, and you could tell the kids absolutely adored him," said Chow. "He'd stand at the door at the end of the class: 'Okay Jim. See you John. Make sure you do your homework.'"
Diaz was also a track and field star, and was remembered as a coach in that sport.
"He just had that spirit of 'never say die' when you're on that field, whatever you're participating in," said Valasi Sepulona, a track and field athlete under Diaz.
But it was more that just on the field. Diaz was also remembered for what he taught in the classroom and in life.
"He always preached humility," said current Farrington head football coach Randall Okimoto, speaking to the gathering. 'He always said you know you're good when somebody else talks about you."
A lot of people were talking about Skippa' Diaz. He was good.
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