Gary Chvala, who took five of his last six boys basketball teams at O’Neill St. Mary’s to the state tournament, died early Tuesday at his home.
He was 64.
Chvala, who was planning to return at O’Neill St. Mary’s for a 41st season of high school coaching, had a career record of 543-279. His final Cardinal team was 24-3 and took third place in Class D-1. The year before, he coached them to an undefeated season and a state title that was the first for the school and for him.
A native of Verdigre, Neb., he played basketball at Southern State Teachers College in Springfield, S.D., which became the University of South Dakota at Springfield while he was there. He graduated in 1971 after bypassing his senior year of competition to coach the college’s junior varsity team.
He taught and coached at Humphrey St. Francis for two years, then spent 15 years at Spencer while coaching and serving stints as athletic director and acting principal.
To lessen his daily workload, Chvala in 1989 went to West Holt where he taught and coached boys basketball for 15 years and girls golf for seven. He retired from teaching in 2004 and moved on to St. Mary’s as a part-time teacher and boys basketball coach.
Among those Chvala coached at St. Mary’s were John Hurley, who’s now a pro golfer on the Web.com Tour; and Adam Moon, a St. Mary’s senior regarded as one of the state’s top prospects in boys basketball.
“He was a great man, teacher and coach,’’ Hurley tweeted Tuesday.
Survivors include his wife, attorney Jan Krotter Chvala; son Tom, a college sophomore who played on the state-championship team; and daughter Tracy, a St. Mary’s sophomore.
His funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in O’Neill. Burial will be at 3 p.m. Monday at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Spencer.