Charles "Coach" A. Willingham passed away Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013. He was born to Wilmer "Bill" and Vick Willingham on Nov. 4, 1927 in Albuquerque, N.M. Charles attended Las Cruces Union High School where he lettered in football all four years and was captain his junior and senior years. Mr. Willingham enlisted in the Marines just prior to graduation. While in the Marines he played football with the Miramar Tiger Carts, a Marine team at Miramar Air Station. "Babe" Curfman, one of his high school football coaches, was head coach at New Mexico State and contacted Mr. Willingham, while he was still in the Marines, and asked him to join the team at New Mexico State. Charles played the 1947 to 1948 season with All-American Frank Burke. Mr. Willingham transferred to Colorado State for his last two years. A year later he withdrew from school and reported for active duty in the Marines. After his discharge he went to work for the Ballistics Research Lab at White Sands, N.M. He headed back to Colorado, returned to school and lettered both years in football at Colorado State. Charles also lettered both years on the swim team. His first coaching job in Douglas was 1956-1957, that first season Douglas won seven games, tied one and lost one. He was named coach of the year in 1957-58. Charles was named coach of the South All-Stars in 196l. He coached the state champions 1957 and 1961. Mr. Willingham became the first full-time athletic director at Douglas High School in 1956 and served in that capacity for four years. He was the assistant principal at the school for nine years. In 1978 he was named principal at Paul H. Huber Junior High. Mr. Willingham was a member of the Masonic Lodge, The Shriner's and The Marine Corps League – El Perro Diablo Detachment, serving in the committee that researched and developed the Veteran's Memorial Park on Roadrunner Parkway. Those left to mourn his passing include his loving wife of 63 years, Aneleh "An" Willingham of the family home; sister, Barbara Jackson of El Reno, Okla.; daughter, Jeannie Willingham-Thompson (Jeff) of Las Vegas, Nev.; son, Allen Willingham of Tucson, Ariz.; and daughter-in-law, Maria Willingham (Joe) of Las Cruces. Other survivors include granddaughters, Caroline "Carrie" Willingham-Cuellar (Brandon), Jessica Willingham-Williams (Elis), all of Texas, Marla Willingham-Arellano ((Phillip), Casey Willingham all of Las Cruces, and Aneleh Thompson of Las Vegas, Nev.; two great grandsons, Austin Cuellar and Jaxson Williams. He was preceded in death by his parents; his sons, Joe and Jerry; daughter, Nancy Ann. A celebration of life service will be held Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 at 10 a.m. in Baca's Chapel of Prayer, 300 E. Boutz Road with Robert Gaines officiating. Military honors will be accorded by the Marine Corps League- El Perro Diablo Detachment. Entrusted to Baca's Funeral Chapels of Las Cruces and Sunset Crematory. 527-2222. Your exclusive providers for "Veterans and Family Memorial Care." For online condolences, log on to www.bacasfuneralchapelslascruces.com.
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Published in Las Cruces Sun-News on Feb. 14, 2013