Don Shula’s family is planning a funeral for the Dolphins Hall of Fame coach, but it will be a private ceremony limited mostly to family, a person close to the coach said Tuesday.
The family does not want any details about the funeral, including the time and location, to be made public, or specify how the coronavirus pandemic might affect attendance at the funeral, according to that close associate.
But Van Orsdel Funeral Chapels, which has several funeral homes in South Florida, said it will be handling the arrangements for the Shula funeral.
Donald Van Orsdel, president of the company, said Shula’s family is touched by the outpouring of love and support it has received since Shula died on Monday at 90.
“The family wants to get the word out that there are two organizations that Don loved and would prefer donations to them rather than sending flowers,” Van Orsdel said.
The Shula family would like to hold a public memorial at a date when it is safe to do so, Van Orsdel said. Also, the Dolphins said Tuesday that they will hold a public tribute for Shula when health conditions allow.
“I know we will do something; we’re just not sure what,” said former Dolphins receiver Nat Moore, who is now the team’s senior vice president of special projects and alumni relations. “Without a doubt, the legacy of Don Shula will last forever, and we — and when I say ‘we’ I’m speaking not only of the alumni but also the Miami Dolphins — will figure out the best way to honor him.”
No cause of death was announced, but a close associate said he was not ill at the time of his passing. Shula had spent recent weeks inside his Indian Creek home, with his wife, Mary Anne, determined to protect him from the coronavirus.
His death leaves Howard Schnellenberger as the only living coach from the Dolphins’ 1972 undefeated team, according to profootballhistory.com.
Schnellenberger, 86, was a Dolphins offensive assistant coach and wide receiver coach on that ’72 team and later guided the University of Miami football program to its first national championship in the 1983 season.
The other assistant coaches on the 1972 Dolphins team died earlier this century: defensive assistant Bill Arnsparger, who died in 2015; offensive line coach Monte Clark, who died in 2009; offensive backs coach Carl Taseff, who died in 2005; defensive line coach Mike Scarry, who passed away in 2012; and defensive backs coach Tom Keane, who died in 2001.
The 1972 team has lost 14 players through the years — to cancer, natural causes and cognitive conditions — a group including Nick Buoniconti, Jim Mandich and Earl Morrall. Former All-Pro safety Dick Anderson said there are 36 living members from that ’72 team.
Miami Herald staff writer Howard Cohen contributed to this report.
Here’s my Tuesday piece with Larry Csonka, John Offerdahl, Nat Moore, Richmond Webb and Bob Griese sharing memories of Don Shula.