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Originally published March 14, 2014 at 7:49 PM | Page modified March 14, 2014 at 10:15 PM

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Former Garfield High basketball coach Fernando Amorteguy dies

Coach won state titles at Garfield in 1974 and 1978

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Former Garfield High School basketball coach Fernando Amorteguy died Tuesday at the age of 79 in Bakersfield, Calif. No cause of death was available.

Amorteguy, who was born in Bogota, Colombia, guided the Bulldogs to state championships in 1974 and 1978, the fourth and fifth titles — of a record 12 — for the school.

More than anything, though, it was the personal relationships he developed that will be remembered.

“He really worked hard at developing relationships with kids that played for him,” said Al Hairston, who succeeded Amorteguy at Garfield. “That’s part of the program that he developed. That was the first time I had really thought about (that in regard to the) program. Not only work on the physical part of the game, but to also develop those kind of relationships.”

Amorteguy left Garfield, where he had also been a Spanish teacher, to coach at Taft College in 1979. He later became a golf-club technician for PGA Tour players, working at times with Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.

Hairston, who now coaches at O’Dea, took over the Garfield program after Amorteguy left and led the Bulldogs to five more state championships.

“He gave me my first coaching job,” Hairston said. “He was a great guy; very personable, engaging.”

Amorteguy is survived by his wife Isabel, seven children and six grandchildren. A memorial service will be held in Taft, Calif., on Saturday, March 22 at 11 a.m. at Westside Believers Fellowship.

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