By Edward Severn and Ivan Palacios | STAFF WRITERS
Edinburg football legend Richard R. Flores died Thursday at the age of 83, Edinburg CISD School Board President Dominga “Minga” Vela confirmed.
Vela said Edinburg schools Superintendent Mario Salinas notified her of his death Thursday afternoon.
Flores was inducted into the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 1992. He went 121-37-3 as a high school football head coach for Rio Hondo, Lyford and his alma mater Edinburg High.
The former Bobcats legend also was honored by the Leo Najo Baseball Hall of Fame, the Texas High School Athletic Directors Hall of Fame and the Texas High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor.
“He was a legendary Bobcat, he was a fighting Bobcat,” Vela said. “He taught the value of life too many football players, pride, tradition, especially Bobcat pride because the red and blue ran through his veins. He was a fine example of what being a Bobcat coach is all about.”
Edinburg CISD’s stadium was named in honor of Flores in 2016.
“We are in Edinburg, at Edinburg CISD we are family, we take care of each other, and we will be taking care of his family for sure,” Vela said. “Because in Edinburg if you are a Bobcat, you bleed red and blue for sure.”
Flores played baseball and football for Edinburg High and graduated in 1958. Flores then graduated from UTPA in 1962.
Flores spent 25 years serving Edinburg CISD. He was a coach for 15 years, retiring in 1990 and spent 10 more years as athletic director.
He helped turn a program in Rio Hondo around following a 0-10 season his first season, leading them to back-to-back district titles in 1972-73. He also helped lead Edinburg High to eight playoff trips during his time at the helm.
Throughout his career Flores has been credited with mentoring many coaches in the Valley, including Robert Vela, Robert Alaniz and Mario Lopez.
Former Mercedes and McAllen Memorial coach Pete Vela did not spend time as a coach under Flores, but Flores impacted Vela, like he also did to his late brother and fellow Valley coaching legend Robert Vela.
“He was a tremendous influence on many, many coaches,” Vela said. “At one time, he was very proud of five of us who became head coaches. He wanted to take a picture — it was Richard Flores, our mentor, Robert Vela, Gil Garza, Chris Cavazos and myself. He was very proud of that; we were all head football coaches who were influenced by him.”
Flores coached Vela when he was in the ninth grade and Flores was the student coach of his team.
“You do not find many men better than Coach Flores,” Vela said. “He was a truly amazing person. He was a great example for his football teams, his football players and his coaches. Not just football, he was a great athletic director as well. He was just a great person. He will be sorely missed (and is) gone too soon from us.”
Flores also garnered admiration from his competitors during his career.
Former Edcouch-Elsa and PSJA High coach Mel Rios respected the legendary coach and said the coach was ahead of the game when their teams battled.
“I got to know him very well,” Rios said. “He [Flores] was always a professional person when it came to speaking to you. I was much younger than he was, but we all looked up to him.”
Rios also had the opportunity to work with Flores at PSJA High when Flores took over in 2006 as the interim athletic director.
“He [Flores] was ahead of everybody when it came to the knowledge of the game. It was always honor to be able to compete against him and to try and get a win against him. Those experiences made us who we are today, being able to be associated with someone like him,” Rios said.