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In memoriam: Hal 'Tiny' Devore

Hal "Tiny" Devore, who was an assistant football coach at Monmouth College in the 1980s and '90s, died Monday in Galesburg, Illinois, at the age of 86.

One of "Tiny's Fat Boys" summarized the impact that the Fighting Scots offensive line coach had on his life.

"He is one of a few people in my life that I thank for being where I am today," said Dan Cotter '88, an attorney at Dickinson Wright in Chicago and a member of the Monmouth College Board of Trustees. "He had faith in a not very good freshman 40 years ago this August and kept after me. But for that, who knows what the rest of the story would be?"

Cotter came to Monmouth from Gordon Tech High School, a Catholic League powerhouse in Chicago. In four years, he was never a varsity starter.

"Confident or nuts that I still had something to do in football, I sought out Division III colleges," said Cotter. "My high school coaches thought I was crazy. I found Monmouth College. They had a new coach, Kelly Kane, from Galesburg High School. He brought Coach Devore with him."

The first few days went so poorly that Cotter had had enough.

"After a week, I decided it was time to go home," he said. "My roommate told me to give it a few more days. At the end of a practice a few days before the first game, Tiny pulled me aside. He said he was starting me (at center), that I was as talented as any lineman, but just needed confidence."

Cotter went on to start all 37 games in his career and was an academic and athletic All-American. Despite accumulating "no official stats," he was inducted into the M Club Hall of Fame in 2002.

"None of that would have happened if not for Tiny," said Cotter. "He was the greatest coach I ever met - he made you better. That confidence he instilled in me, the leadership - it gave me the confidence to accomplish big things. As I've gone along, I've tried to instill that in other people and pay it forward."

A few stories

Cotter shared a story about "Tiny's Fat Boys," as well as Devore's knack for knowing when to compliment and when to criticize - sometimes in the same sentence."

He had a little bit of a stammer or a tick when he talked," said Cotter, who then slipped into his best impersonation of Devore. "He'd say, 'Dan, great job of blocking, but when you chop block, you look like a @#$%.'"

To fix that issue, said Cotter, Devore would "actually get in the chutes with us, even though he was only about 5-6. He'd have me chop block him over and over."

One of Cotter's teammates was the late John Carlberg '87, who was from just down the road in Roseville. His father had a printing press.

"John's father made up T-shirts with 'Tiny's Fat Boys' on it," said Cotter, who said that over the years "25 or 30" Scots lineman could call themselves that. "My junior year, we surprised Coach with the shirts. He liked them."

Monmouth Director of Athletics Roger Haynes '82 served on the football coaching staff with Devore.

"Hal Devore was an excellent coach and a better man," said Haynes. "I remember many bus rides home where Hal taught me to appreciate the geese heading south and the beauty of a fall sunset. He was a tremendous mentor to his students and players alike."

In addition to his time with the Fighting Scots, Devore was a high school history teacher in the Illinois communities of Mount Olive, Farmington and Galesburg, teaching for 38 years before retiring in 1996. He was also a professor at Knox College in its teachers program.

Devore summed up his life in his own words: "He taught school. He had a great family. He had a good life."

Cotter offered a short summary, as well: "Tiny in stature, he was and will always be a giant in my heart."

Survivors include his wife of 65 years, Eunice.


Visitation for Hal Devore will be 4-6 p.m. March 15 at Hinchliff-Pearson-West Funeral Directors and Cremation Service Chapel in Galesburg. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. March 16 at the First Presbyterian Church in Galesburg. Cremation burial will be in Oquawka Cemetery at 2:30 p.m. March 16. Memorials may be made to the First Presbyterian Church or Habitat for Humanity. Online condolences may be made at www.h-p-w.com.

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