‘HOOSIERS WE’VE LOST’: Youth sports coach worked to improve life for community

Editor’s note: This is one of a continuing online series of profiles of the more than 12,000 Hoosiers who have died from COVID-19. The stories are from 12 Indiana newspapers, including The Republic, who collaborated to create the collection to highlight the tremendous loss that the pandemic has created. The series appears daily at therepublic.com.

Name: Ezra Alexander

City/Town: Gary

Age: 59

Died: April 8

Ezra Alexander was known by Gary city officials as a consummate public servant and youth sports coach, working on multiple levels to improve life in the struggling Northwest Indiana city for decades.

Alexander, 59, director of recreation and aquatics at the Gary Department of Public Parks, lost his battle with COVID-19 in April just as the virus was beginning to impact the Hoosier state.

“Ezra has had health challenges, and he was certainly someone who we hoped would never contract coronavirus,” said longtime friend Chuck Hughes, president and CEO of the Gary Chamber of Commerce.

Hughes said Alexander was hospitalized a few weeks ago after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Alexander had been an employee of the city for about 30 years.

Throughout his career, Alexander was heavily involved in youth sports as a volunteer assistant coach for basketball and track programs in Gary. By those he was mentoring, he was known as “Coach DD,” Hughes said.

“He was very community-oriented and certainly had influence on a lot of young people out here,” Hughes said. “Assisting in youth sports was something he did on his own apart from his job because he wanted to. He was quite a contributor to the Gary community.”

Alexander was a graduate of West Side High School, class of 1979, and earned a degree in business management from Calumet College of St. Joseph in Whiting. Alexander was named after his grandfather, who was a founder of a Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, which the Gary man later joined, Hughes said.

— Contributed by The Times of Northwest Indiana