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"The Hurricane" has passed.

Purdue and the city of Gary can return to their daily business, those stormy days of high winds, snapped trees and chewed-up turf now an exciting memory for sports fans.

Harry "The Hurricane" Szulborski died Friday at the age of 90.

He was laid to rest Tuesday.

Szulborski was a four-year starting halfback for the Boilermakers from 1946 to 1949, leaving as their career leader in rushing yards with 2,478 during the era of nine-game seasons.

That total now ranks seventh.

His 5.18 rushing yards per attempt ranks eighth, his 478 career rushing attempts 10th, and his 3,103 all-purpose yards 14th in school history.

"Like a strong wind, he ran over people, ran around people, ran through people," said Harry Sims, one of three grandsons.

Opposing defenses tried everything but tranquilizers and a court order to slow down "The Hurricane,'' though nothing else worked.

He rushed for 100 yards or more 11 times at Purdue, including five in 1948 — a feat topped only by Mike Alstott (16) and Otis Armstrong (13).

Szulborski led the Big Ten in rushing his sophomore and junior seasons, was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the eighth round of the 1950 NFL Draft, but injuries curtailed his short pro career.

He is survived by daughter, Katherine, and grandchildren Harry Sims, Carl Sims, Brian Sims and Rose Sims.

The Detroit native furthered his legacy while coaching Emerson football from 1951 to 1981, then moving to Wirt when Emerson closed.

In all, he worked 39 years in the Gary School System before retiring in 1989.

"My grandpa touched a lot of different lives. A lot of his players were at the funeral," Harry Sims said. "Older people, black people, white people ... came up to me and told me what kind of coach he was. A guy that didn't take guff from anybody.

"He was there for his players and treated them like his family and that was told to us a couple of times (Monday) night."

How good was Purdue when "The Hurricane" swept through stadiums coast to coast? His teammates included Gary's Hank Stram, John McKay and Abe Gibron -- who all became NFL coaches -- Bob DeMoss, Gary's Lou Karras and Bill "Moose" Skowron.

DeMoss would eventually coach at Purdue, Karras played in the NFL, and Skowron in Major League Baseball.

"My grandpa loved Gary back in the day. He loved the Gary athletic scene," Harry Sims said. "He loved coaching. It wasn't just football. It was baseball and track and wrestling and golf.

"When the high school started losing money, they began consolidating coaches and suddenly my grandpa was coaching everything."

If and when the Gary Sports Hall of Fame becomes a reality, Harry M. Szulborski is a sure inductee. He already is in the halls of fame for Indiana Football (1996) and Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics (2004).

"When I was a kid, geez, it was 'Your grandpa coached my dad in football.' I had six or seven friends mention that," said Harry Sims, a 1994 Merrillville grad. "It's an honor to be named 'Harry' after him."

When Szulborski's wife of 65 years, Katherine, died, he began to slow down and the family could see it had affected him greatly.

The end came mercifully last weekend.

We've lost another legend and that's equally sad.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

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