On January 26, 1983, legendary Alabama Football Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant passed away from a heart attack in Tuscaloosa. He died less than a month after coaching his final game.
On the day of his funeral, our news partner at AL.com reported that the state shut down. Three churches in Tuscaloosa were filled for the service, hundreds of cars and trucks pulled off to the side of I-20/59 as the funeral procession moved to Birmingham’s Elmwood Cemetery. Thousands more lined the side of the road or watched from overpasses to watch the procession pass by.
Bryant was the head coach at four schools — Maryland, Kentucky, Texas A&M and Alabama. He won six national championships with the Crimson Tide in 1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, and 1979.
Of his then-record 323 wins (against 85 losses and 17 ties), 232 came at Alabama, making him the school’s all-time winningest coach. For the record, the 232 wins is more than double Nick Saban in the No. 2 spot with 116, with Frank Thomas at a close third with 115.
Below is a story done by WHNT News 19’s Steve Johnson on Bryant’s funeral. It originally aired on January 28, 1983.