Saying goodbye to a beloved teacher, coach
Generations of students who walked the hallowed halls of the historic Old High School on South Maine Street have memories of listening to the Spanish language emitting from Room 5 tucked near the corner of the two-story building’s north side.
Thousands more have either played for the legendary coach and teacher or competed on one of the many fields named for him that comprise a sprawling athletic complex resembling a small college.
A friend to many teachers, parents and students guided Fallon to numerous state athletic championships in the 1950s with longtime friend Elmo Dericco. Edward “Señor” Arciniega passed away Wednesday morning at Banner Churchill Community Hospital. A funeral service is scheduled for April 23 at 11 a.m. at the Elmo Dericco Gym.
Arciniega, 92, devoted 37 years of his life in the classroom and athletics and is being remembered as a mentor to those who learned from him or sought his advice.
Fate and Fallon
Fate brought Señor to Fallon more than 60 years ago after he received his degree from the University of Nevada in 1951.
Quickly, Señor established himself as a conscientious teacher and dedicated coach either on the field or court. While Señor ensured his students knew how to conjugate their verbs and learn the Spanish masculine and feminine forms, both he and Dericco taught the game and techniques for three sports.
In looking back, the 1957 season produced two state champions in baseball and basketball and runner up in football as described in a 2007 LVN story recapping that glory year:
“Fifty years ago, the Greenwave — not Reno or Las Vegas — was the powerhouse of boys sports in Nevada.
“Fallon won the AA state titles in basketball and baseball under coaches Ed Arciniega and Elmo Dericco, respectively, and the Wave reached the state final in football, losing to Boulder City in Las Vegas.”
Señor commended the players for their great season more than half a century ago.
“We were in the A League with schools much bigger than Fallon. But we went into the tournament with a 21-3 record. By the end of the season, I could tell that the team really wanted to win it all. We had a great tournament. We beat Reno, Las Vegas and then Hawthorne in the finals and indeed won it all.
“But I feel I just got here at the right time. They were a great team and it was nice to win the state championship in my second year as coach.”
Norine Arciniega said the championship occurred on a special day.
“It was meant to be,” she said of her husband. “It was his 33rd birthday.”
More championships followed, though. Señor contributed to 14 more state championships as athletic director, a position he held from 1958-1978. He was Nevada Athletic Director of the Year by the National Council of Secondary School Athletic Directors in 1975, Churchill County Teacher of the Year in 1979, Hispanic Teacher of the Year in 1985 and Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association inductee into the 1994 Hall of Fame. In 1996, the school district named the new athletic complex after Señor.
Before he was inducted in the Hall of Fame, Señor said his most memorable moment as either an athletic director or coach came with the ‘57 season.
“Without a doubt, coaching the 1957 state champions in basketball was my great month,” he said in an LVN interview. “That was the best team this town has ever seen. They use that 1957 team to judge all the other teams that have come behind it. Some have come close but no one can quite compare to that team.”
Retired educator and Fallon native Dave Lumos was a member of those 1957 teams.
“We were in the top league,” Lumos said. “Ed was a very nice man in all of his dealings as a teacher or coach or as athletic director. I don’t think I ever saw Ed angry, and I have known him for years. In his coaching, he never yelled or screamed and had an idea of the way we played. His relationship with the players was outstanding.”
Lumos first became acquainted with the Arciniega family when they moved next door to his family on South Allen Street. As a young boy, Lumos babysat the two oldest Arciniega children. Lumos also remembers Norine becoming friends with his mother and their friends.
IMPACT ON LIVES
Although he retired almost 30 years ago, Señor still attended games and rooted for a new generation of Greenwave boys and girls. A crowning achievement during the past year resulted in state championships in softball and baseball in May, the first football state title in November, its first since 1978 when Señor still served as an athletic director, and in February, when the wrestling team won its first state trophy in the program’s history.
Señor’s impact on young lives is legendary.
“He had an impact on more young men,” said Fallon Mayor Ken Tedford, who visited the family Wednesday night.
Tedford recalled how Señor could be a mentor and a father figure to those with whom he came in contact.
“When I came back here (after graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno in the mid 1970s), there was still that connection,” Tedford said. “Even when I had issues in my personal life, who gives you a hug? Ed.”
Tedford said Señor was definitely a teacher who had the respect of hundreds of students and had this ability to listen and then help. The Fallon mayor, who played on several state championships teams during his time at CCHS, scrolled through text messages left on his cellphone from his friends, giving their tributes to Señor.
“One said ‘a truly great guy, a gentleman,’” Tedford read.
Another said, “He was a fine man, a good friend.”
“My kids are very sad,” Tedford said. ”They not only knew him but knew what a good friend he was to me.”
Tedford returned to his cellphone.
Another person wrote, “So sorry, too sensitive to talk about it.”
Tedford said he told about 10-12 friends he would keep them posted as additional events became available.
“It’s really hard for me,” Tedford said. “I am full of sorrow but at the same time I am trying to be encouraging to his great family he has left. He and Norine have left a great legacy. He would be very pleased with that.”
Kelly Sutherland, Señor’s son-in-law who married Yvonne, the oldest of three children, said the impact of what Señor accomplished did not stop with his coaching or teaching. Sutherland said it took 17 holes of golf more than 20 years ago for him to muster enough courage to ask Señor for his daughter’s hand in marriage.
“He had that quizzical look,” Sutherland remembered, then reciting what Señor said. ‘Well, you have been good to her, and she seems happy.’”
History teacher Bert Serrano grew up in Hawthorne and played sports for the University of Nevada in the late 1960s. Serrano said Señor was a gentleman, a very humble man.
“He recruited me in 1971 (as a teacher),” Serrano said “He helped me move in …paint the house. Ed was like a dad to me.”
Señor always had an arm ready to place around a person’s shoulder when times were tough. When tragedy struck Serrano, he said the first thing Señor did when he saw him was put his arm around the young teacher and coach.
“There’s not enough to say for what he did for all the thousands of kids,” Serrano added, his voice choking.
THE EARLY YEARS
Born March 17, 1924, in Indio, Calif., into a large family, his father worked for the railroad, a job that eventually brought the family to Valmy where Señor and his siblings traveled the short distance east to attend school in Battle Mountain.
“He and his twin brother Charlie attended high school and graduated from Battle Mountain,” said Norine Arciniega, who reminisced about her husband’s formative years of being a young teenager in the middle of Nevada. While at Battle Mountain, Señor played on both state championship football and basketball teams.
After graduating in 1943, Señor enlisted in the U.S. Marines during World War II. He spent most of his tour aboard the aircraft carrier USS Essex, which was commissioned in December 1942. The Essex, which stretched the length of a football field, served in several campaigns in the Pacific Theater of Operations, earning the Presidential Unit Citation and 13 battle stars. When fighter planes returned to the Essex, an elevator lowered the aircraft to another deck where mechanics such as Señor would work on the planes and then return the planes to combat. Sometimes, the crew wouldn’t see land for months.
Once World War II ended, Señor returned to Los Angeles and planned to become an apprentice painter. It didn’t take long for Señor to decide that he wanted to do something else with his life.
Norine said Señor decided to use the GI Bill and traveled 440 miles north to Reno where he enrolled at the University of Nevada, a campus of about 1,000 students but beginning to grow with the additional number of servicemen enrolling at the state’s only four-year campus.
Señor and John Marvel, who knew each other from their Battle Mountain days, decided to enroll together and later they both joined the Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) fraternity. Señor also played collegiate football for the Wolf Pack
“They were very good friends,” Norine said.
Life was fun in the late 1940 and early 1950s at the picturesque campus that overlooked postwar Reno and was less than a mile away from the city’s famous gambling center and Truckee River. Norine said Señor’s roommate, Don Taylor, was taking out a friend of hers. Both Don and Lorraine, who eventually married, arranged for their friends to go out with them, and soon, both Norine and Señor were dating.
“At that time the fraternities and sororities were very social, and we went to a lot of dances,” Norine recalled. “Ed didn’t have a car so he would borrow one …like John Marvel’s Cadillac. Or another time he borrowed a car, he parked it on a hill and would roll it down the hill to start it.”
LOVE OF TEACHING
Señor received his bachelor’s degree in history and Spanish in 1951, and his first teaching job took him to Fallon, a small agricultural community of 2,734 residents that is still considered the Oasis of Nevada for its warm weather and thousands of acres of land used for growing crops and raising livestock. The school district hired Señor to teach for Jack Davis, who had been called up to serve during the Korean War
“If Jack wanted his job back, he had it,” Norine said.
But when Davis returned, he left military service and decided to pursue another field.
During Señor’s first year at Churchill County High School, he taught history, economics, math and Spanish, but over the years, Señor drifted to his true love of teaching Spanish. Although he retired in 1988 after 37 years in the classroom, Señor taught Spanish for three more years at Western Nevada Community College.
Norine, who was a year behind Señor, graduated in 1952, but in August of that year she and Ed married. As Norine said, she didn’t have to look for a teaching job … the school district came to her offering a position as an elementary school teacher.
“I said yes,” she exclaimed, but two years later with the birth of their first child, Norine became a substitute teacher until she returned full time to the classroom in 1970 when Anne Berlin retired. Norine taught high-school English for 22 years before she retired in 1992.
As the Arciniega children — Julie, Yvonne and Charlie — look back at their father’s legacy, they said he had three milestones in his life — the 1957 championship basketball team, the naming of the athletic field after him and the community sending Señor and their mother to Hawaii for a week in 1978. Lumos said a support group of students, parents and residents raised enough money for the week-long trip to Oahu.
“I thought it was a big deal,” Lumos said “It was the first time people did something like that, a big tribute.”
Norine said during Homecoming 1977, the announcer asked the Arciniegas to come to the football field to honor Señor, and she received a bouquet of roses. What came next surprised them.
“The announcer said Ed would get a trip to Hawaii on a 747, and I’m thinking I don’t like to fly,” Norine said
Enough funds were raised to pay for their substitute teachers, the plane fare, lodging and spending money. During the week there, they stayed at a hotel on Waikiki and visited numerous tourist sites.
As Tedford said, Señor’s legacy will continue for future generations who knew of his kindness in both the classroom and on the field. Coach, teacher, friend … Señor Arciniega made an impact on anyone who met him, and the community expressed their appreciation countless times for him and his family. Yet, as an appreciative community now fights the tears away to say goodbye to Señor, his family, former players and friends remember what he always told others when the burdens of the world got them down:
“Don’t worry. The sun will come up tomorrow.”