Harold Ray Hand


(Nov. 17, 2003)

Harold Ray Hand, who enjoyed professional careers as a teacher and football coach, then a banker, died Monday, Nov. 17 at Powell Hospital of complications from pneumonia. He was 79.

Memorial services for the former Powell High School coach will be conducted Friday, Nov. 21 at 10 a.m. at St. John's Episcopal Church. Cremation has taken place.

Mr. Hand was born Jan. 7, 1924, in Terry, Mont., the son of Ray L. and Esther Hand. The family moved to Riverton when he was a freshman in high school.

He was a stand-out, three-sport letterman in football, basketball and track at Riverton High School. He held the state record for 20 years in the long jump at 19 feet, 10 inches.

For his athletic endeavors, he was honored by the Wyoming media as one of Wyoming's top ten athletes of the century.

After high school, he was awarded an athletic scholarship in football by Denver University. He left the university for a time to join the U.S. Navy where he graduated from St. Mary's flight school as a pilot in World War II. After the war, he returned to DU and played three years of football, during which time he led the Pioneers to a memorable upset of the Wyoming Cowboys.

After his senior season, he earned mention as a collegiate football All-American.

He graduated from DU in 1948 and moved to Powell to begin his 16-year coaching career as an assistant to John Earp at PHS from 1949 through the 1954 season. He was named head football coach the next year and served in that capacity for 10 seasons.

During his tenure as head coach at PHS, his teams won 60 games, lost 30 and had three ties. His crowning achievement was the 1957 season when the Powell Panthers finished 11-0 and won the Class A state championship.

He was elected president of the Wyoming Coaches Association in 1964 and later received the coaches association's Distinguished Service Award in 1992. He was a member of the National Football Foundation's Collegiate Hall of Fame.

In June of 1965, Harold Hand switched careers. He left teaching and coaching to become an officer at American National Bank in Powell. He spent 20 years with American National, serving as the bank's president from 1980-1985. Before retiring back to Powell, he moved to Thermopolis for a time as manager of Big Horn Federal Savings & Loan.

Mr. Hand delighted in serving the community of Powell and was honored to be elected to the Powell School Board and serve as its president. He also served as president of the chamber of commerce, the Powell Athletic Roundtable and the Powell Rotary Club. He was a lifetime member of BPOE Elks #2303.

He loved to play golf and looked forward every year to the gathering of Big Horn Basin coaches. Nothing made him happier than a visit from one of his former players, unless it was walking down the streets of Powell, greeting everyone he knew.

Survivors include his dear and special friend, Pat Dozah of Powell; two daughters, Lee Ann Hand-Francik (Keith) of Cody and Jay Ellen Hand of Chicago; his sister, Helen Mitton of Casper; brother-in-law Jack Pollard (LaVonne) of Riverton; sister-in-law Marjorie Richardson of Kansas; Pat Hufford and Stephanie, Brett and Ryan Molaskey-Warner; as well as nephews and nieces, Mike, Patrick and Kathy Mitton, Brent and Paul Pollard and Julie, Vicky, Larry and Jane Richardson.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Ray and Esther, and his ex-ex-wife, Vera Mae.

For those who wish, the family requests memorials to the Powell Athletic Roundtable.