Dr. Boyd Converse, former vice president for student affairs and athletic director at Northeastern A&M College, died Monday following a long illness at his home in Tishomingo.

During his 18-year tenure from 1972 to 1990 as the AD for the NEO athletic department, Converse increased the athletic program to include football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, golf, wrestling and both men’s and women’s track and tennis.

“He was one of the finest men I ever got to work with,” former Norse football coach Glen Wolfe said via phone Tuesday night. “Boyd always had NEO at heart. He loved the Norsemen and loved the college.”

During the tenure of Converse, NEO’s athletic teams won national championships in football in 1980 and 1986 as well as a men’s basketball national crown in 1989.

“When I first came to NEO in 1979, I was still a young pup, so working for Boyd Converse and Dr. Creech (president D.D. Creech) was just a blessing,” Wolfe said. “They treated me and my family very well. They gave me time to catch on to what needed to be done on the junior college level.”

Also during Converse’s time at NEO, the high school basketball tournament reached a peak of 98 teams.

While in Miami, Converse served as regional director for the Babe Ruth Baseball Association and was a member of the noon Rotary Club.

“I’m saddened by the news,” former Lady Norse and current Seattle Storm head coach Brian Agler said in a Tuesday e-mail. “Boyd was a significant influence on my professional life and career. He convinced me to start a career in women’s basketball. I’m so glad I followed his lead.

“In many circles he was the athletic face and leader of NEO athletics where many teams reached a high level of success, conference and state championships, participation in national championships and several national championships.”

Born on Feb. 18, 1932, in Milburn, Okla., Converse graduated from Milburn High School in 1950 and hit the ground running at Southeastern State College in Durant.

He earned 11 letters in football, basketball and baseball.

After earning a bachelor's degree in biology and physical education, he served as a graduate assistant coach at East Texas State University and then began a highly successful coaching career.

At Paris (Texas) Junior College from 1957 to 1962, he coached all major sports and won the 1959 national junior college baseball championship. His basketball team finished third at nationals.

After a year as assistant basketball coach at Baylor University, where he earned a doctorate degree, Converse became head football coach at Kilgore (Texas) Junior College.

His second year at Kilgore brought the school the 1966 NJCAA national championship in football, giving Converse national championships in football and baseball.

Dr. Converse was inducted into Kilgore Hall of Fame in 2003 and his 1966 team was inducted into the NJCAA National Football Hall of Fame last season.

Converse served as the 27th head college football coach for the Wichita State University Shockers in 1967.

His overall record at Wichita State was 2-7-1.

After coaching at Wichita State, Converse entered the private business sector in Longview, Texas, from 1970 to 1972 before coming to NEO.

During his prep coaching career, Converse served as the coach of the East Team in the East-West All-American high school games in 1959 and 1960. He also coached in the North-South Junior College All-American basketball games in 1959, 1960 and 1961.

He was inducted into the Paris Junior College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991 and into Southeastern’s Athletic Hall of Fame on Jan. 27, 1996.

Converse was president of Carl Albert State College in Poteau from 1991 to 1993 then was an administrator in the Garland (Texas) Independent School District.

He is survived by his wife, Mary, sons Boyd and Derrick and daughters Cris and Angela.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, at the Calvary Baptist Church in Tishomingo under the director of Clark's Funeral Home.