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Sam "The Rifle" Etcheverry


1930 - 2009 Obituary Condolences
Sam "The Rifle" Etcheverry Obituary
Sam Etcheverry died Saturday, Aug. 29, 2009, in Montreal, Canada, after a long battle with cancer. Sam was born May 20, 1930, in Carlsbad to Jim and Florence Etcheverry, a Basque sheep rancher who immigrated to New Mexico from the Pyrenees Mountains of France. Services for Sam will be conducted by Fr. Cyprian Uline, OFM Conv. at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, at St. Edward Catholic Church with burial following at Carlsbad Cemetery. Prior services were conducted on Sept. 3, 2009, in Montreal at St. Patrick's Basilica.
He attended grade school at St. Edward Catholic School and graduated from Carlsbad High School in 1948, where he began his legendary career. He played for the University of Denver from 1949 to 1951, where he still holds most of the Pioneer's football records for passing offense. He was a professional American and Canadian football player and head coach.
In 1952, Sam joined the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. As the team's quarterback, he was twice voted "Most Outstanding Player" of the CFL's East Division and was named a CFL East Division All-Star six times (1953, '54, '55, '56, '57 and 1960). In 1954, he was awarded the CFL's Outstanding Player Award. His jersey, No. 92, is one of the seven retired by the Alouettes. He still holds the record for most passing yards in a Grey Cup game.
Sam played for the St. Louis Cardinals (NFL) 1961-1962 before returning to Canada.
In December 1969, he was hired to coach the Alouettes. In his first season, he led the Als to victory in the 58th Grey Cup Championship game. He resigned at the end of the 1972 CFL season.
He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1969, and was an inaugural inductee into the University of Denver Athletics Hall of Fame upon its formation in 1996. In November 2006, he was chosen 26th amongst the CFL's 50 Greatest Players.
Sam returned to his hometown frequently to visit family and friends and wished to be returned to his beloved New Mexico to be buried.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Jim and Florence Etcheverry; a son, Jim Etcheverry; former wife, Nita Mulcahy Etcheverry; and his second wife, Norma Etcheverry.
He is survived by Sinikka Etcheverry of the family home; two sons: Steve Etcheverry (Sue) of North Hatley, Quebec, Canada, and Mike Etcheverry of Sarasota, Fla.; two daughters: Nancy Etcheverry (Jeff Woolcott) of Calgary, Canada, and Jennifer Neudecker (Bob) of Vancouver, British Columbia; stepchildren: Sarina and Vinci Fibbiani of Montreal, Canada; grandchildren: Jenna and Christa Etcheverry, Zach McDonald and Taylor and Riley Neudecker; brother, Tot Etcheverry (Oleeta) of Carlsbad; sisters: Mary Bauder (Marvin) of Cedar Crest, N.M., and Cecilia "Baby" Wigley (Jack) of Streetman, Texas. Special mention to his cousin, Lillie Barberia Eisert; special niece, Adrienne Verkler; and his life-long best friend, Joe Zeni; and many other nieces and nephews.
The family will be receiving visitors at the home of Lillie Eisert, 1402 West Ural, Carlsbad, after the services.
Published in Carlsbad Current-Argus on Sept. 11, 2009
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