Longtime Hayward-area high school coach Will Matthews died on July 4 after suffering a heart attack, his wife Hazel confirmed Monday.

Matthews, 69, retired from coaching and teaching at Hayward High in 2009 after a distinguished career. Among the sports he coached at Mt. Eden from 1972 to 1996 were track and field, cross country and football (the latter as an assistant coach). He then coached track and cross country at Hayward High. He also was an assistant football coach at Chabot College during part of his long coaching career.

The physical education teacher was honored by the Hayward Chamber of Commerce in 2008 as its Educator of the Year. He was named as an North Coast Section Honor Coach in both track and field (1989) and cross country (2006).

Castro Valley cross country and track and field coach Dooney Jones, who was coached by Matthews in track and field at Mt. Eden, said that Matthews was like a dad and a role model to him.

"He was a well-loved, respected person all over Hayward, Castro Valley and definitely in the track community. An honorable person. I pattern the way that I coach after him." Jones said.

Current Northgate cross country and track coach Peter Brewer faced Matthew's teams regularly as Castro Valley's coach in those sports from 1985-2008.

"A pure gentleman. It was the first time I saw a coach have his athletes shake the hand of the opposing coach after the competitions," Brewer said. "The man coached character before he coached competitions."

Hayward athletic director Kristy Prasad was an assistant track coach under Matthews for eight years.

"Will really mentored me in all aspects of my career," said Prasad, who said she talked with Matthews less than two weeks ago. "He was enjoying life, enjoying retirement, in good spirits."

North Coast Section commissioner Gil Lemmon said that Matthews worked for many years at the NCS cross country championships when they were held at Hayward High.

"He was always very positive, just a great person to be around. And of course, he was so dedicated to the kids. He had such a great rapport with student-athletes," Lemmon said.

Matthews was born in Birmingham, Alabama and graduated from Edison High School in Fresno in 1964. After serving in Vietnam in 1966-67, he competed on the football and track and field teams at Reedley College (where he was later named to its athletic Hall of Fame) and Chico State. He graduated in 1971 from Chico State with a bachelor's degree in physical education and a minor in English, then earned his teaching credential the following year.

A funeral for Matthews will be held on Sunday, July 20 at the Chapel of the Chimes (32992 Mission Blvd. in Hayward). A public viewing will be held at 10 a.m., with the service starting at 11 a.m.