Allie Smith, a coaching presence in St. Tammany Parish for nearly half a century and a member of the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame, died Wednesday of heart-related issues, according to friends.

He was 73.

Smith was the defensive coordinator for the Covington High School football team for several decades, and was the head football coach at the school from 1996-2001. He was part of a staff that that led the Lions to a state championship (1976) and three other state finals.

Smith also was the track coach at Covington from 1964-1994 and had 18 district championships and three regional championships to his credit. He was the Covington High cross country coach, as well, and earned 14 district coaching honors during his stretch at the school. He previously was inducted into the Louisiana High School Coaches Hall of Fame.

“Allie was a great man,” said longtime friend and former Covington High football coach Jack Salter. “He wasn’t just a good coach, but a good person.”

Smith coached elsewhere in the parish after he left Covington, but he said several years ago that his heart was always with the Lions.

“I enjoyed every day teaching and coaching there,” he said for a story several years ago. “It’s the school where I grew up and where I’ve worked most of my adult life.”

For most of his childhood, current Covington High football coach Greg Salter said “Coach Allie” was a constant in his life. The younger Salter said his family, which has known Smith for decades, was struggling with the fact that was gone.

“Grandpa (Jack) was the coach, but Coach Allie was always around,” Greg Salter said. “He was a part of our family. As a player, I was a cornerback, and he was my coach. And then, when I got into coaching, he asked me to be part of his staff. I only got to spend one year coaching with him, but he was such a great influence in 2001, just like now. “He will be missed, without a doubt. What a man.”