Died Dec. 25, 2008 in Diamondhead, Miss.
Wally Smith was a four-year starter on Denfeld's
football team, leading the nation in scoring with 23 touchdowns
in eight games his senior season and helping the team go undefeated.
His 50 career touchdowns remains a school record.
Smith was invited to practice with pro football’s
New York Giants between his junior and senior seasons.
Denfeld’s coach Walt Hunting not only named
Smith to his “Dream Team,” but added at the end of his
career, “I’ve seen many great players at Denfeld, but
Smith was the best.” The University of Minnesota’s coach
Bierman called him “the best recruit ever.”
Smith was awarded the Purple Heart and Presidential
citation for bravery at the Battle of Tarawa Island during World
War II. Duluth newspapers reported on the severity of his wounds
and subsequent survival. Relieved he lived, Coach Hunting commented:
“We might’ve known Wally would be in the thick of a
fight like that. He likes the going tough.” Smith visited
coach Hunting at his house upon his return.
Smith was a legend at Denfeld before he ever attended
the school. While in the ninth grade at Lincoln Junior High, Wally
busted loose and scored the only touchdown in a 7-0 victory over
Central on Maroon and Gold Day in front of 12,000 people. Duluth
sportswriter, Sid Peterson, called Wally’s performance that
night the greatest individual performance he ever saw. Twelve years
after his graduation, the Duluth newspaper commented, “Whenever
football followers gather in these parts, one name bobs to the top
of the list … Wally Smith, Head Hunter of them all.”
of Fame Members