By Jim Berry

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Don Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history, was laid to rest following a private funeral mass.

It was held at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on Miami Beach Friday morning.

Father Juan Sosa, who anointed Shula before he died Monday, presided over the Mass.

Mary Anne Shula, his wife of 27 years, wiped away tears before the private service began.

The church had been closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it was re-opened to hold this service for Shula, who was a devout Catholic.

Shula’s sons Dave and Mike eulogized their father.

They recalled him as a devoted family man and joked that Miami Dolphin banners were flying when he arrived in heaven.

Don Shula was a devout Catholic. During his heyday as Dolphins head coach, he attended Mass daily.

The funeral service was limited to family.

The Miami Dolphins plan to hold a public tribute for Shula, once health and safety conditions allow.

Don Shula coached the Dolphins for 26 years, and led them to five Super Bowl appearances, and back to back Super Bowl championships in 1972 and 1973.

His 1972 team recorded the only perfect season in NFL history.

Shula racked up more victories than any other NFL coach.

Shula passed away peacefully at this home Monday morning at the age of 90.

Shula set a league record with 347 victories and coached in six Super Bowls. Shula reached the playoffs in four decades and coached three Hall of Fame quarterbacks: Johnny Unitas, Bob Griese, and Dan Marino.

He retired following the 1995 season and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.

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Shula is survived by his wife of more than 26 years, Mary Anne, and children Dave, Donna, Sharon, Anne and Mike. Dave and Mike followed their father into coaching, even becoming assistants on the Dolphins’ staff.

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The Dolphins honored him with a bronze statue outside Hard Rock Stadium.

It features the legendary coach, fist aloft, being carried off the field by Dolphins players Nick Buoniconti and Al Jenkins after Super Bowl VII in Los Angeles. John Carroll’s stadium in University Heights, Ohio, and SR 874 in Miami also bear his name.

Shula had five kids with is first wife, Dorothy, who died from breast cancer in 1991 at 57 years old. Shula established an eponymous foundation for breast cancer research that same year.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to two organizations close to his heart: The Shula Fund at Moffitt Cancer Center and Schott Communities in Cooper City.

 

Jim Berry

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