IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Hayden Fry left this Earth on Tuesday evening, but his memory and the lessons he taught generations of young men won't soon disappear.
The legendary football coach passed away Tuesday night at the age of 90 following a long battle with cancer.
Fry came to Iowa City in 1978 from his home state of Texas to take over a football program that was far from its glory days of decades past. Fry quickly turned the program around, building it into a winner and then a national powerhouse. He retired from the game in 1998 as the school's all-time winningest coach.
He would cede that title to his replacement and former protege, Kirk Ferentz, 20 years later. On Wednesday Ferentz fought back tears as he recalled Fry's impact on him and everyone he met.
"I think I speak for so many people. So many people that coached for him. So many that played for him," Ferentz said on Wednesday, "So the real story is coach Fry. He's just a really impressive person, truly unique, and truly charismatic and a guy that just did an unbelievable job here but more importantly he impacted so many, so many people and certainly in the football family that's really evident."
A memorial to Coach Fry is growing at the feet of a statue of his likeness that sits along Hayden Fry Way in Coralville. Josh Schamberger, creator of the FryFest celebration held every year in honor of Fry, stopped by to share his memories on Wednesday. Schamberger says the location of the statue was Fry's choosing.
"A lot of folks were wanting it around Kinnick Stadium but Coach Fry told us early on he wanted it on Hayden Fry Way," Schamberger said, "He wanted it as close to I-80 as we could get it because when the visitors pulled off that interstate he wanted to stare them down as they started to make their arrival to Kinnick."
Details of any public memorial ceremonies for Hayden Fry have not been made public.