Funeral services for G.A. (Tex) Oliver, one of Santa Ana High School’s first football coaches, will be held at 10 a.m. today at Rose Hills Cemetery in Whittier.
Oliver, 88, died of cancer Sunday at his Costa Mesa home. He is survived by his daughter, Patricia Michaux, of San Pedro.
Oliver, a veteran of World War I, coached for Santa Ana, the University of Arizona, the University of Oregon, St. Mary’s Preflight (a military team) and Fullerton College during a 26-year span.
“Tex was a man of great character,” said Bruce Hawke, a longtime associate of Oliver. “I didn’t meet him until the 1950s, but, being a sports fan, I had known about him since he was the coach at Santa Ana.”
After he attended West Point for two years and graduated from USC in 1923, Oliver was hired in 1926 to coach at Santa Ana, where he remained for seven years.
In 1931, the Saints won the Southern Section Major Division championship by defeating Covina, 34-0, at the Coliseum. The next year, Santa Ana lost to Inglewood, 14-0, in the title game.
In the spring of 1933, Oliver left Santa Ana to became the football coach at Arizona.
Under Oliver, the Wildcats were 32-11-4 from 1933-37. He then left Arizona to coach at Oregon until 1941.
Dean Millen of Brea, who was captain of Oliver’s first football team at Santa Ana, said, “He was just a tremendous coach and a great guy. When he left Arizona, the governor of that state wrote the governor of Oregon to say, ‘What is our loss is your gain.’ That shows the kind of coach he was.”
When the United States became involved in World War II in 1941, Oliver was commissioned as a lieutenant commander in the Navy and coached football for St. Mary’s Preflight. He returned to Orange County to coach Fullerton College for two years.
Oliver worked as a school administrator in Compton and Antelope Valley until he retired in 1966.