Remembering a Ladue Football Coaching Legend

Editor’s note: We’re pleased to share the following post from Jim Baer, a longtime observer of the St. Louis prep sports scene who most recently has been involved with PrepCasts and was at the helm of Ladue-Frontenac Patch, to chronicle the career of Ezekiel Elliott, among many, many others.

Ladue Horton-Watkins High School has had just four varsity football coaches since its first season back in 1954. Legendary coaches Ed Velten (27 years) and Jerry Maher (25 year) accounted for the vast majority of those fall campaigns. Maher passed away on May 9 at age 75. He left an indelible mark at Ladue, having coached football, wrestling swimming and track in addition to teaching physical education and drivers education. Maher inspired hundreds and hundreds of young men who took part in his more than 180 victories.

On June 6, a Celebration of his Life was held on the turf where he commanded the Rams to many victories over much larger teams. Maher spent his entire career at Ladue outside of the three years he coached at John Burroughs School in Ladue. Spokesman after spokesmen spoke about his quiet but firm leadership and how he developed young boys to become men. Inspired by his help were two individuals who never suited up for his football Rams. Those who spoke glowingly included Dr. Eddie Johnson, the principal of Brentwood High School and former NFL star Demetrious Johnson and one who did play for him: Duane “Scooter” Hawthorne who presently coaches at Missouri Baptist University.

Maher played football at Alton Maquette High School and Washington University in St. Louis where he was captain of both squads. He was most proud of the fact his three sons all were captains at Ladue and all wore his favorite number 33. Stories were spun about the friendship and fellowship he developed with countless individuals, whether they played for him or not. The best story was the one where he motivated a less than inspired lethargic team on the road at McCluer North on a very hot day. The locker room was so quiet, he picked up a waste basket and slammed it against the wall. The word got back to Ladue’s Principal who held a team meeting to get to the bottom of the damage report. Maher lined up his team saying “Dr. Raisch, I don’t know who did the damage, but wagging a finger down the line, he said ‘I will hold a thorough investigation and get to the bottom of this and punish the offender.” There were laughs all around, but they came much after the principal headed back inside to his office.

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