Farewell to a Beloved FSU Coach

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When Don Veller first came to Florida State University in 1948 his friends remember Tallahassee as a "sleepy town." FSU was a women’s college that had just gone co-ed and the newly created men's football team was in need of help.

Veller turned to his friend Charles Armstrong before leaving his hometown in Indiana and heading to Tallahassee.

Armstrong recalled that conversation, "He came up to me one day and he says, Charles, I just got the head football coaching job at Florida State University and he said I'd like you to go with me."

Armstrong took the assistant coaching job and so did Bob Harbison. They were his side as he led FSU into its first undefeated season in 1948 and its first bowl game in 1950.

Harbison said, "He was a great person for that time, the start of FSU's winning in a football program."

Veller, the man who laid down the foundation of FSU football, was there for other Seminoles milestones when the FSU Fight Song was unveiled and when the stadium was dedicated in the name of then FSU president Doak Campbell.

Buddy Strauss, an FSU football player in 1948, said, "He was really a top notch man and really a good coach. We were very successful in our football games those early days. We were a girls’ school but we had a few guys who had played in the service and it was really a good experience for me."

But the greatest love of his life other than football and golf was his wife Fran. She died ten days before he took his last breath Friday, the couple ending their journey through life together.

Veller is the first coach in FSU history to lead two different sports teams into winning seasons.