The Don Hastings Collection
Teacher and Coach
Coach Don Hastings spent 38 years teaching and coaching at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles. Born on July 25th, 1929, in Los Angeles, he was the fourth child of Thomas and Gladys Hastings, and attended Manual Arts High School, Occidental College, and the University of California, Santa Barbara. On completing a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education in 1954, he began teaching P.E. at Garfield High in 1955 and coaching as an assistant with the varsity football team. Eventually, he became the head coach of the “B” team, where he was famous for playing everyone, and winning multiple championships. Simultaneously, he coached the tennis team, which also earned championship trophies.
When the L.A. City Schools inaugurated the Driver’s Education Program, Don Hastings joined colleague Don Capp to co-head the department, and spent many years teaching behind the wheel skills to more than one generation of students.
At Garfield Don Hastings met his wife Kay, an English teacher, and they were married August 25, 1962, at St. Alphonsus Church, just down the street from Garfield located on Hastings Street. Their wedding reception in Garfield’s Reiterman House is believed to be the only one held on a Los Angeles high school campus. Don and Kay had five children – Donna, Diane, Steve, Debbie, and Mike.
As a longtime member of St. John Vianney Church in Hacienda Heights, he was actively involved in the parish, contributing financially to building a new church after the original structure was destroyed by arson in 2011. Don served as a Eucharistic Minister, with a special ministry to the sick, and worked with the Food Pantry and the San Gabriel Valley Homeless Shelter programs. For many years, you could find him at the annual fundraiser, “Early California Days,” working game booths or counting money. He was proud to serve as a sponsor for the RCIA, welcoming new members into the church.
Always interested in the community at large, Don Hastings was an advocate for the mentally ill, and served as the social chairman on the Board of the East San Gabriel Valley National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI) planning events, which included potlucks, picnics, movie outing, and baseball games. He participated in the annual NAMI Walks, raising thousands of dollars for the cause.
Don Hastings inspired the love and respect of everyone he knew. He was known especially for his infectious laugh, which could lift the spirits of even the most jaded. He celebrated 56 years of marriage in August, 2018 with his wife, Kay.
Coach Hastings passed away October 17th, 2018. He will always be “Our Coach.”
* A big thank you to Coach Hastings' daughter, Diane Hastings Renslow, who sent us so many items that can be seen here.