Amherst College Mourns the Passing of Retired Professor of Physical Education and Beloved Long-Time Coach, Tracy Mehr, 1928-2020

Clubs and Thoughts, Circa 1990
Clubs and Thoughts, Circa 1990

AMHERST, Mass. – Long-time Amherst College assistant football and men's and women's head golf coach, Tracy Mehr, passed away at his home in Hoschton, GA on February 26, 2020.

>>>> Complete Obituary, John Tracy Mehr (July 13, 1928 - February 26, 2020)

Coach Mehr was known to and beloved by many on campus during the thirty-six years (1965 - 2001) he coached and mentored countless young men and women. Recently, he had celebrated both his birthday (91st) and wedding anniversary (61st) with his loving wife, Carol, and family.

The Amherst College community mourns "Coach's" passing and expresses its heartfelt condolences to Carol and his family. 

Peter Gooding, retired Amherst director of athletics and men's head soccer coach, spent most of his own Amherst years alongside Tracy.

"Tracy was a strong and independent person who quietly excelled at most everything he undertook," said Gooding. "He always strived for excellence in his teaching. He often played golf with only two clubs, a putter and a five iron, but it was the conversations while walking on the fairways that we will all remember. "

Don Faulstick, Amherst's director of athletics, and E.J. Mills, head football coach, each began a coaching relationship with Tracy upon joining the football staff in 1997. Don Faulstick remembers the level of commitment Tracy brought to all of his relationships. "Tracy was a great mentor to me and many young assistant coaches and, of course, students. He particularly held dear the importance of his role as an educator —- he cared passionately about it —- and he truly respected and valued the academic mission of the college.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and we extend our condolences as well to the many others, including our alumni, whose lives he touched. He'll be greatly missed."  

Similarly, Coach Mills' admiration for Tracy Mehr is rooted in his mentor's pedagogical approach. "He epitomized the very best ideals of what it means to be a teacher and coach. He embraced each "teachable moment" and delivered the right lessons effectively —-  directly yet with a caring touch. I'll forever remember Tracy for finding creative ways to instruct his students on how best to learn from their mistakes."  

Coach Mills continued on a personal note, "When I arrived at Amherst College, Tracy proved to be an invaluable resource on all things Amherst and he continued to be an ever-present and wonderful mentor to me for the past twenty years. He and his wife, Carol, shared their passion for the college —- he loved it — and for the Town with me. The Mehrs are a big reason why Angela and I chose to stay in Amherst and raise our family as they did. Coach Mehr lived his life with an enviable work ethic and faith. It will always be my great honor to call Tracy Mehr my friend.  I will forever be in his debt."

Long & Straight                        

Jack Arena '83, Amherst men's head hockey and golf coach, was both coached by and coached with Tracy on many golf courses.

"Tracy was a tough, fair and very smart coach. He had such a richly diverse background of experiences —- experiences which were always reflected in how he went about teaching," remembered Arena. "No one was able to simply recite an answer to one of Tracy's questions. He always probed deeper and forced players and colleagues to think in ways that they weren't used to and always pushed toward a more thorough understanding.  He was a great mentor.  He constantly pushed you out of your comfort zone and made you better and the loyalty from his former players to him as a coach and friend is fiercely strong."

One of Tracy's proudest moments at Amherst was the formation, in 1978, of the women's golf program. A few years later, he experienced the joy of coaching one of his daughters (Kate '84); and just a few years later still, in 1990, the Amherst women's golf team won the National Golf Coaches Association Division II-III championship. 

"Tracy was the Amherst Golf Program," added Arena. "He was a passionate player and that passion was passed on to his teams.  Everything we have here is because of the foundation Tracy built and the standards he set.  He is a legend in the New England collegiate golf world and deservedly so."

Michelle Morgan, retired Amherst professor of physical education and former senior women's administrator, worked closely with Tracy during the early years of the women's golf program and was appointed head women's golf coach following that championship year.

"I will be forever grateful for Tracy's mentorship over my years at Amherst," said Morgan. "In his own inimitable way, he challenged me to become the best version of myself, yet was always a "gentle giant" when my wings faltered.  To this day I often pause when in need of a solution, and ask myself, "What would Tracy say?" 

 
Family and Friends at Taconic GC, 2011-- Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Tracy Winning the Massachusetts Amateur Golf Championship

When honoring Tracy upon his retirement in 2001, the college noted, "Tracy Mehr, you came to Amherst many years ago with a simple plan: teach, coach football, do the best you can and leave before wearing out your welcome. After 36 years on the Amherst physical education faculty you have taught thousands of Amherst students, coached hundreds of student-athletes in seven sports—and although you are retiring, you have never worn out your welcome." In the years following his retirement, that sentiment was repeated each of the many times Tracy returned to campus to visit or watch a game. 

A Celebration of Life service is being planned for this coming fall in Amherst. The funeral service will be private. Should friends wish, a memorial donation in Tracy's honor can be made to The Mehr Scholarship Fund, Advancement Office, Amherst College, PO Box 5000, Amherst, MA 01002.

>>>> A Conversation with Tracy Mehr, Amherst Magazine, Fall 1990