Bear Bryant died on this day in 1983: Vintage photos of Alabama legend’s final game, funeral

Mary Harmon Bryant didn’t want an elaborate funeral for her husband, certainly nothing at the football stadium. Her husband already had enough attention, he figured it out. She didn’t want music or a long list of speakers giving eulogies.

Nonetheless, the service and telecasts filled three churches in downtown Tuscaloosa. Hundreds of thousands lined the streets there and in Birmingham and along the path of Interstate 59 along which Paul “Bear” Bryant was taken to his final resting place at Elmwood Cemetery.

Bryant died on Jan. 26, 1983 and the services were held on Jan. 28. He was 69 years old, only a month removed from the last football game he ever coached, the 1982 Liberty Bowl — the 323rd of his then-record victories.

These vintage photos of Bryant’s funeral were taken by former photographers Tony Triolo and Dave Dieter, among others. They include shots of various dignitaries in attendance, such as Joe Namath and ex-coaches Bud Wilkinson and Woody Hayes.

On this, the anniversary of his death, we thought it would be appropriate to share those and other photographs.

Here are more vintage images and stories of Alabama’s past.

Coach Bear Bryant at the 1982 Liberty Bowl football game in Memphis, Tennessee.

This was Bryant’s last game as the head football coach at the University of Alabama. Alabama wins the game against the University of Illinois at Urbana?Champaign, 21 to 15. Alabama Media GroupAlabama Media Group


Bear Bryant funeral at First Methodist Church in Tuscaloosa, AL. Coach Pat Dye talks with unknown person. Photo by Dave Dieter HVTHVT

1983 Press Photo Alabama-Fans climb tree to watch "Bear" Bryant's funeral.

Alabama-Fans climb tree to watch “Bear” Bryant’s funeral. The Birmingham NewsThe Birmingham News

1983 Press Photo Alabama-Man mourns at Coach "Bear" Bryant's funeral site.

Alabama-Man mourns at Coach “Bear” Bryant’s funeral site. The Birmingham NewsThe Birmingham News


By Steve Gates – Fans watch Bear Bryant’s funeral procession from the Woodstock overpass on I-59. PhPh

1983 Press Photo Alabama-Mourning fans at Paul "Bear" Bryant's funeral.

Alabama-“Bear” Paul Bryant funeral. Football The Birmingham NewsThe Birmingham News


Casket of Alabama coach Paul Bear Bryant at the Elwood Cemetery in Birmingham, Ala. Friday Jan. 28, 1983. (Fie Photo/ The Huntsville Times) The Huntsville TimesThe Huntsville Times


Former Alabama student Tammy Rogers at graveside service for Alabama coach Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant at Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham, Ala. on Friday Jan. 28, 1983.(File Photo/ The Huntsville TImes) The Huntsville TimesThe Huntsville Times