Hugh S. Thimlar, beloved father, grandfather, great-grandfather and “Coach” passed away on Sunday March 24, 2019 at the age of 93. He was born on December 17, 1925, in New Haven, Indiana to the late Hugh and Ida (Moon) Thimlar. Coach graduated from Butler University in 1951 with a BS Degree in Education and received his Masters in Physical Education from Indiana University in 1963. He played basketball at Butler University for then Coach Tony Hinkle.
Coach served in the Army Air Force during WWII and also played basketball for the Army Air Force during his service. He began his legendary coaching career in basketball as the head coach at Montpelier H.S. in Indiana, then as head coach at Wolf Lake H.S. in Indiana, and then as head coach at Pike H.S. in Indianapolis, IN. He helped to place Pike H.S. on the state map for basketball as the Red Devils received their first ever state ranking under his direction. While serving as a head coach in Indiana he was a co-founder of the Hoosier Basketball Clinic and the original Hoosier Basketball Camp. Coach was the program director for the Indiana State Fair in the summers, selling all of the advertising and the event program for all of the entertainers, and grandstand/coliseum events, performing at the State Fair. This included Bob Hope, Ricky Nelson, Jimmy Dean, Tennessee Ernie Ford and even the Beatles, to name a few. Coach was also instrumental in starting the Indiana vs. Kentucky H.S. Basketball All-Star game into a series event.
In 1962, he became the head coach at Manatee H.S. in Bradenton, FL. Then, in 1965, he became the head coach at Edison Junior College in Ft. Myers, FL, and was the head coach at Edison (later to be named Edison Community College and now known as Florida Southwestern State College, FSW) for the next twenty-six seasons. He coached twenty-two Florida Junior College All-Stars, twelve First Team All-State players, five First Team Junior College All-Americans and two National Junior College Players of the Year while at Edison. He was founder of the North vs. South Florida Junior College All-Star Basketball Game, and served as the victorious head coach of the Florida Junior College All-Star team against the National Junior College All-Star team. He was founder of the Converse Florida Junior College Basketball Hall of Fame, and was himself an inductee into this Hall of Fame in 1991. He was founder of the News-Press Christmas Basketball Tournament which is now the City of Palms Holiday Basketball Tournament.
Coach was a board member of the Sportsmen’s Club of SW Florida and also served as president of the board for the Sportsmen’s Club. He served on the Lee County Airport Authority Board after his retirement from coaching.
In 2008, Coach was inducted into the State of Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. His overall career coaching record was 604 wins - 452 losses, coaching for 40 years, all as a head coach.
He was preceded in death by his beloved wife Udella Thimlar. He will be dearly missed by his daughter Lana Mink (Don), daughter Vicki Cummings, son Terry Thimlar (Shelly), and step-son Gordon Reigelman. Also, he is survived and will be greatly missed by seven grandchildren and six great grandchildren and longtime girlfriend, Arlene Arledge.
A visitation will be held Friday, April 19, 2019 from 6pm to 8pm at Harvey-Engelhardt Funeral Home, 1600 Colonial Blvd, Ft. Myers, (239) 936-2177. A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, April 20, 2019, beginning at 10am at the same location. In lieu of flowers please consider a memorial contribution to Hope Hospice, 9470 Healthpark Circle, Ft. Myers, FL 33908.