Robert 'Pudgie' Walsh, Retired FDNY Lieutenant and Brooklyn Mariners Coach, Dead at 82

NY Daily News - September 25, 2016

by NY Daily News

The FDNY will say goodbye to one of the founders of the Bravest football team on Monday. Retired lieutenant Robert “Pudgie” Walsh died Sept. 21. He was 82.

Walsh, the son of an NYPD detective, grew up in working-class Marine Park, Brooklyn.

After a stint in the U.S. Navy, he joined the Fire Department as a young man and rose up through the ranks.

Walsh had a life-long love of sports, especially football. He inadvertently started the FDNY’s football team in 1972 after getting into a bar debate with an NYPD buddy over which agency had the best players on the local semi-pro team, the Brooklyn Mariners.

A year later Pudgie Walsh and NYPD officer Joe Loughran took their debate to the gridiron. The Bravest and the Finest faced off for a football game — and a new tradition was born.

The Bravest Football Club and its counterpart in the NYPD are now part of a league of first responder teams around the country that play games to raise money for charities.

Walsh’s interest in football never waned.

When he retired from the FDNY in 1996 as a lieutenant, he dedicated himself full-time to coaching the semi-pro Mariners. The legendary local football coach racked up 621 wins over 60 seasons.

His family, wife Jeanne, daughter Erin, son John and several grandchildren and other relatives, will hold a viewing Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Marine Park Funeral Home at 3024 Quentin Rd.

The funeral will be Monday at 9:45 a.m. at Marine Park Funeral Home, followed by a funeral mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church at 10:45 a.m. at 249 9th St.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the FDNY Fire Family Transport Foundation.