- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Al Bortke, the longtime University of Mary athletic director and men’s basketball coach, has died.

The Bismarck school announced his death Sunday at a Bismarck hospital, at age 78. Officials did not give a cause of death in the statement late Monday. Bortke’s funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Church of the Ascension in Bismarck.

The Hettinger native became the first athletic director at the private Catholic school in 1973 and served in that role for 35 years before retiring in 2008. He also coached the men’s basketball team to 335 victories from 1973-1989. He is second in career wins among all college men’s basketball coaches in North Dakota history, and Mary’s basketball court is named in his honor.

During his tenure as athletic director, Mary went from one varsity sport to 19, became a national power in the NAIA and transitioned to NCAA Division II.

“Al was the cornerstone for University of Mary athletics for close to four decades,” current Marauders athletic director Roger Thomas said.

Bortke not only developed the Mary athletic department but also served as a role model, working with Special Olympics and pushing Mary athletes to volunteer in the community, Mary President James Shea said.

“His was a lifetime of pursuing victory with honor as an extraordinary, trustworthy, and greatly respected servant leader,” Shea said.

Bortke was married to his wife, Linda, for 54 years. The couple had two sons.

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