Aggie Hall of Famer Willie Zapalac passes away

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AUSTIN, TX -- Willie Zapalac, a Texas A&M Hall of Fame member and an Aggie football/track letterman and coach, passed away and services are scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday, May 22 at the Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home (3125 North Lamar, Austin, TX 78705 512-452-8811). A reception will follow at the Austin Country Club.

Zapalac, born Dec. 11, 1920 in Sealy, attended Bellville High School and then lettered for the Aggies and head coach Homer Norton in 1941 and 1942 before leaving Aggieland to serve three years in the United States Air Corps in World War II. Zapalac returned to A&M as a first lieutenant and lettered in 1946 and served as a team captain in 1946. The 1941 squad won the Southwest Conference Championship and finished the year with a 9-2 record.

Upon graduation, Zapalac played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1947 and then coached at several high schools and was the head coach at UT-Arlington in 1952 before being named the freshman coach at Texas A&M in 1953. When Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant was hired prior to the 1954 season, Zapalac was named to his coaching staff and remained in Aggieland through the 1960 season.

Zapalac would serve 12 years as an assistant coach with University of Texas head coach Darrell Royal from 1964-75.

Zapalac was inducted into the Texas A&M Athletics Hall of Fame in 1991. He is survived by his wife, Dorothy, and two sons, Bill and Jeff and a daughter Jill.

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