Havre, Havre High School, Great Falls High, Montana State University-Northern…Those are just a few of the places and institutions that coaching legend Walt Currie influenced over a brilliant career.
Currie passed away from a blood ailment at the age of 69 Sunday in Great Falls.
To Havre residents, Currie was a longtime Blue Pony head football and wrestling coach. He achieved great success in both sports. He also coached the wrestling program at Great Falls High, and touched many youths lives in both communities.
Currie will also be remembered as the man who stepped up to the plate to resurrect the football program at MSU-Northern. He served as the school’s first head football coach in nearly 30 years, and was extremely instrumental in not just getting the program up and running, but making sure it became a constant at Northern.
While many coaches were interested in the MSU-N job, longtime Havre great and former NFL linemen Mike Tilleman knew right away Currie was the man to lead Northern’s infant football program.
“We knew we didn’t have to sell the community on Walt Currie,” Tilleman told the Great Falls Tribune. “People in Havre were already sold on him.”
Recently, Currie came out of retirement to help coach the football program in Fort Benton.
Overall, Currie was the head coach of the football and wrestling programs at HHS from 1977-86. He moved to Hermiston, Ore ., to coach prep football for four years, then took over the Great Falls High wrestling program. From 1991-98, Currie’s Bison mat teams were annually always in the hunt for state championships.
Currie was also a tireless volunteer in sports communities around the state of Montana, in particular wrestling. He was instrumental in helping run the three NAIA national wrestling tournaments held in Great Falls some years ago. He was also a staple at the All-Class State Wrestling Tournament in Billings, long after retiring from the sport.
Currie also spent 40 years fighting forest fires in the summer, including 25 years working as a smoke jumper.
To many, Currie will long be remembered as a brilliant coach, a leader of young men, and a coach who did his job with class, dignity and sportsmanship. In Havre, and many places beyond, Walt Currie will never be forgotten.
Note: For more on the passing of coaching great Walt Currie, see next week’s Havre Daily News.