John North, a long-time player and coach in the National Football League including three seasons as head coach of the New Orleans Saints (1973-75), died on Tuesday, July 6 in Covington at 89.
"The entire New Orleans Saints family is saddened by the passing of John North," said Owner Tom Benson. A Louisiana native, Coach North was an outstanding person who after serving our nation in World War II enjoyed a long distinguished career as a player, assistant and head coach. During his three seasons in charge of the Saints, he brought a great deal of passion to the team every day. After the end of his coaching career, he remained a Louisiana resident. Our deepest sympathies go out to the entire North family. He will be missed."
North was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 60 years, Blondell "Dell" McClure North; and his son John P. North III. He is survived by his daughter, Martha North Tennison; granddaughters Gayle Guglielmo Croxton, Dell Guglielmo, Katie North Demicelli and five great-grandchildren
Visitation: Saturday, July, 10: 12:30 PM at E.J. Fielding Funeral Home, 2260 West 21st Ave., Covington.
Funeral Services: Saturday, July 10: 2 p.m., E.J. Fielding Funeral Home (see address above). Burial will be at the adjacent Pinecrest Memorial Gardens. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations are asked to be made to: St. Timothy Methodist Church Wednesday Night Meal Outreach Ministry, 334 Asbury Drive, Mandeville, LA 70448.
A native of Gilliam, La., who grew up in Lebanon Tennessee, North Graduated from Vanderbilt. After his freshman year, he enlisted in the Marines for World War II, where he was severely wounded on the Island of Tinian and earned the Purple Heart. Aft his honorable discharge as a sergeant, he rehabilitated his wounded legs and eventually served as a captain, playing on offense, defense and as the placekicker, being named an All-American as a senior.
Originally joining the Saints as their wide receivers coach/offensive coordinator in 1973, North was named head coach towards the end of the preseason. The club finished with a 5-9 record, which tied the best record to date for the franchise. The highlight of their season occurred on November 4, when the Saints scored their first-ever shutout as they blanked Buffalo 13-0 in Tulane Stadium, holding Bills RB O.J. Simpson who finished the year with a then-NFL record 2,0003 yards to his lowest rushing total of the season – 79 yards on 20 carries.
In 1974, North's club again tied a then-franchise record with five wins. In their most impressive win of the season, the Saints shutout St. Louis 14-0 on December 8 in the franchise's final game in Tulane Stadium.
North ushered in the Saints into their first season in the Louisiana Superdome in 1975, the club's current home before being relieved of his duties at midseason.
North played wide receiver for the Baltimore Colts for three seasons. North entered the coaching profession in 1951 at Tallassee, Ala., then moved into the college ranks in 1953 as an assistant coach at Tennessee Tech. In 1956, he joined a staff at Kentucky which featured coaching legends such as Don Shula, Bill Arnsparger and Howard Schellenberger. In 1962, North became an assistant at LSU, working with the offensive line and receivers before moving into the pros in 1965 when he was named offensive backfield coach of the Detroit Lions. He worked in Detroit until coming to New Orleans in 1973. After leaving the Saints North served on the offensive staff of the Atlanta Falcons for seven years, before closing out his coaching career by serving as the quarterback's coach for the USFL's New Orleans Breakers for one season. After his retirement from football, he was a resident of Covington and Mandeville for the past 27 years where he worked as a licensed real estate agent.