By William McDonald, Jr.
Texas Metro News
It was the fall of 1972 and as Boulter Jr. High was charging toward a city football championship Zachary Guthrie stood out as a defensive end on the bright Tyler Rose Stadium football field as a man among boys.
As the announcer called his name it was not to be the last time to hear this gentle Giant, standing 6’8’’ name over a gridiron loud speaker. The following year Big Z would become a sophomore starting member of the 1973 John Tyler High State Championship football team as a tackle for a band of brothers that would be recognized by many as one of the best football teams Texas and the nation ever produced.
In my life, I am truly grateful that Zach Guthrie would become a life long friend, and brother who lived a life dedicated to helping others as a Christian, mentor, and public servant manager in both the Cities of Austin and Dallas, Texas.
On the campus of Texas College, Zach and I became close friends as members of Top
Teen’s Inc. under the tutelage of Mrs. Annie LaCroix and the Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. Tyler Rose City Chapter.
During the next 45 years, I was blessed to know him as a man whose shoulders many have been supported by as a faithful Man of God, husband, brother, executive manager, Aggie, leader and brilliant scholar who is a legend both on and off the gridiron.
In 1985 he became one of the three John Tyler players on the 1973 team to be selected to the All East Texas team along with NFL greats Earl Campbell and Ronnie Lee.
As a Captain of the Texas A&M football team he was the blind side tackle for quarterbacks Mike Mosely, who later played in the NFL and NFL Coach and Player Gary Kubiak, along with Curtis Dickey NFL running back and an Aggie teammate with his own brother Keith Guthrie, NFL player and JT Coach. The two brothers both wore the number 74 while attending Texas A&M
Zach was proud to have been selected to play in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL. As an NFL free agent before an injury limited options of a pro career, he received NFL Hall of Fame player and Coach Forest Gregg’s compliment , “For a lineman you have the fastest feet I have ever seen”. Zach was one of the few high school athletes selected as both All-American offense and defense along with being a shot put champion during his early years at John Tyler High now Tyler High school.
His parents Dollie and Johnnie Guthrie, were proud to know that their son could have played for the legendary Coach Eddie Robinson of the Historic HBCU Grambling State University his dream school as a child, but he chose to complete his education along a path less traveled by many African Americans at Texas A&M and focused on Industrial Safety Engineering. As one of the few starting football players and Corp of Cadet members, Zach honored the traditions of integrity, loyalty, discipline, and service throughout his life. Zach grew up with fond memories of Miles Chapel C.M.E and mowing the yard of Dr. Young, Tyler African American distinguished pharmacist and carried this spiritual foundation and hard work ethic with him throughout his life.
His first job upon his 1980 college graduation was in New Mexico as a Safety Manager for a major oil company, before joining me in Austin as a Solid Waste and Street Sweeping District Manager and in Dallas as Solid Waste District Manager. He was responsible for multi-million-dollar budgets and training many employees as a licensed CDL instructor.
Zach was one of the early solid waste pioneering managers for new technology use in the State of Texas by helping employees transition to automated waste collection, poly-carts and recycling to help avoid career ending back injuries.
As a humble man, Zach became one of the first college educated District managers in Dallas to fulfill the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King who died defending the rights for African American sanitation workers to be treated as Men with dignity and respect.
I never will forget his first safety meeting in the City of Austin in the mid -1980s when he was introduced as a newcomer to a unionized work force familiar with in-house promotions by opening with a prayer setting the tone for his tenure as a man who cared for both the safety and souls of his workers. Zach served over 18 years in the City of Dallas before retiring.
Zach Guthrie traveled our nation from coast to coast in later years, but never forgot his love for Tyler, and his family. He was married to Evangelist Alice Guthrie for more than 29 years, his sole surviving brother Keith, along with many other Aggies, friends and relatives pause to honor this brother who on March 2, 2021 at the age of 64 transitioned from this earthly world to immortality.
I remember Zach’s love for others watching him and his brother Keith Guthrie host a youth football camp with fellow Aggie teammate Tank Marshall, and former Dallas Cowboy Harvey Martin, for a group of boys at the Balch Springs recreation center who would later become a part of a Mesquite High School State championship football team or taking my grandson Austin fishing in his first tournament.
His patience as the Uncle every boy deserves in teaching him how to cast and bait a hook reflected on his values that if you give a man a fish he will eat for a day teach him how to fish, he can eat for a life time.
Others will remember him as a Deacon teaching at the New Millennium Bible Fellowship Praise Center with Pastor Jimmie Slater in the Dallas Pleasant Grove area or hosting a fall festival for youth, helping facilitate the Father’s day church lunch, plan the annual bus trip for youth from Dallas to attend the annual gospel youth explosion in Arkansas coordinated by his wife Alice and some played on a youth football team he coached.
Zachary O’Niel Guthrie, lived a life dedicated to helping others and while we may mourn his passing I choose to remember the gifts of his living so that others will be inspired like him to do their best while it is day with the knowledge that he truly understood the meaning of Hebrews 13:1-2:” Let Brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
My brother Zach rests today with the Angels of heaven knowing that he defended Jesus here on earth and although we remember him as Number 74 in our programs, he will always be No. 1 in the service of God and in the memory of his family and friends on earth as a mighty man of valor whose greatness came from his Giant heart full of good deeds and love of Christ.