Legendary Fort Worth basketball coach who touched thousands of lives dies at 82

Coach Gales courtesy

John Gales Sr., who impacted thousands of lives in the 36 years he coached basketball and taught English in the Fort Worth school district, died Aug. 25 at the age of 82.

Mr. Gales’ list of accomplishments as a basketball player, coach and teacher is lengthy. But he will likely most be remembered for the values of hard work, integrity and goodness of spirit that he instilled in his students and the community.

Gales, a Fort Worth native, went to James E. Guinn Middle School and I.M. Terrell High School. He played basketball at Wichita State and returned to Fort Worth in 1962 as an educator and coach. He and Alice Gales had four sons: John Jr., Jeff, James and Jerrold. Jerrold Gales died in November 2020. The other three men still live in the Fort Worth area.

“We never had to look outside of our house for a hero,” Jeff Gales said. “He was our hero. That in and of itself is something to be grateful for.”

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Alice Gales met her husband of 62 years at a Valentine’s Day party when she was 16 and John Gales was a freshman in college. He and his brother were star basketball players at Terrell High School, and John Gales went on to play at Wichita State. He returned to Fort Worth after college to work at Guinn Middle School for six years.

In 1968, Mr. Gales became the basketball coach at Trimble Technical High School, where he would teach and coach for the next 30 years. The title made him the first Black coach for an integrated basketball team in Fort Worth schools.

Mr. Gales retired in 1998. He was a scorekeeper and bookkeeper for high school basketball teams for some time before officially retiring. His legacy continued well after he stopped coaching. In 2009, the gym floor at Trimble Tech was named after John Gales.

A tribute to Mr. Gales is planned on Friday Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. at Trimble Tech High School. A visitation will take place on Friday at noon until 8 p.m. at the Gregory W. Spencer Funeral Home at 4000 Miller Ave. Funeral services are planned for Saturday at 1 p.m. at New Rising Star Baptist Church, located at 5000 Wichita St. in Fort Worth.

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– From a news release