When David McNabb’s name is mentioned people instantly refer to him as an established voice in the Texas high school sports community. A person of influence as a sports reporter for several major North Texas institutions such as The Dallas Morning News and WFAA-TV, but he was also known for working with a website covering Texas High School football, TheOldCoach.com.
My dear friend and colleague, David McNabb, passed away on Sunday, February 26. He was a 60 years young and will forever remain an iconic member of the North Texas journalism community. But more than that, his memory and friendship will be an immeasurable element of this “old coach’s” life.
David is recognized as one of the top authorities on Texas high school sports, especially football, and his connection to The Old Coach cemented this reputation for nearly a decade. He made lasting friendships with colleagues, coaches, parents, and athletes during his more than 30 years as a sportswriter.
He is remembered as a friendly co-worker, always having a positive attitude, a great memory, and a relentless work ethic. He was known as a caring mentor to the youngsters starting in the field of journalism whether they worked for The News or were freelancers. But more importantly for me, he leaves this world as my devoted and good friend.
David died of colon cancer in hospice care at his home in San Francisco, where he had lived for the last year with his wife, Lisbeth. He learned he had cancer only one month before he passed away. He went from having a kidney infection, to an emergency room that led to a scan that told his family he had terminal cancer masses from his colon to liver.
The Old Coach met David after a few years of anonymous email exchanges back when The Coach was still “in the closet” so to speak. We met at a Mexican food restaurant on Inwood and instantly became friends. We stayed close while David toiled away freelancing for the website and spoke often even after his move to San Francisco last year.
David was a key to The Old Coach website earning a reputation for a source for legitimate coaching news and information. David used his sources to scour the rumor mill and was adamant about his journalistic integrity to never post anything without verification. His approach to working others, dealing with rumors and innuendo, was always above reproach and solidified his professional reputation.
We enjoyed our time when we ended up together, often sharing family stories, and life experiences. David was an exceptional communicator, loyal, great listener, humble, a man of integrity, kind and had a witty sense of humor.
David was born in Arlington and was a graduate from Sam Houston High School in 1974. He received a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1979 then continued his education at the University of Texas at Austin in 1980. He spoke often of each place but seemed to hold his time in Austin in esteemed favor.
He worked for the University’s student newspaper, The Daily Texan, getting his direction for his career. He returned to Arlington writing for the community newspaper, then working as a freelancer for The Dallas Morning News covering high school sports, and joined the newspaper full time in 1985. He left The News in a 2004 staff reduction but remained a freelancer for the paper.
David leaves a legacy as a father, husband, friend, and as a professional journalist.
He often shared stories of reporters, coaches, and parents with me but I cannot remember a bad word he said about any of them. Not even after the time he was “kicked off the field” by Mack Brown while covering Texas' Junior Day Camp for The Old Coach. We chuckled afterwards about Mack calling him out in front of the athletes in attendance.
We would laugh about life and circumstances that came at us, sometimes unpleasant, but David never complained. Always the optimist with high regards for his competitors, opposition, or former employees.
David valued his work with high school sports but most importantly he loved his family.
He was a devoted husband to his wife, Lisbeth, as much of any man I know. He often spoke proudly about her accomplishments and the rise in the CEO world of high tech. He was honored to take a back seat to her business world and allow Lis to expand her professional accomplishments.
He was proud of his children, even in difficult circumstances, always the supporter and gratified father. David was the wordsmith but sometimes when we talked about our children he would lose his words knowing that he did his best to be the dad his boys needed.
In addition to his wife, David is survived by his sons Darby McNabb of Arlington, Max McNabb of New York and Ben Tuttle, a student at Seattle University; a sister, Sandi Graham of Arlington; and a brother, Kyle McNabb of Kempner.
The sudden news of David’s death rang clear in my spirit once again that we are here for a short time. We should make the most of every opportunity to touch lives and leave a lasting, positive legacy like David McNabb.
I had never thought about this old coach writing David’s life tribute especially at his young age. You never do. This is my third very good friend in the past two years that died way too young.
No one travels through life without, at some point, experiencing the loss of someone close. The death of a loved one or a dear friend is one of life’s most intense challenges, and the pain can be overwhelming. But we do not have to suffer alone.
May you rest in peace my friend, gone from this earth, but never to be forgotten.
What a wonderful God we have—he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us.
2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 (TLB)
The memorial service for David McNabb will be held Saturday, April 15 at 2 p.m. at St. Michael's and All Angels Church in Dallas. The church is located at 8011 Douglas Avenue, near the intersection of Douglas and Northwest Highway.