Services set for Ruben “Tony” Anthony Gabusi

(Family Photo)

NOTE: I first met Tony when we were both students at the University of Arizona, studying Exercise and Sport Sciences. We caught up again when I started covering youth and high school sports and I covered his 2011 state championship with Catalina High School – NOT Catalina Foothills – Catalina. Our Arizona classmate Jim Mentz led Palo Verde to a state championship three years later.

Those were the first low-income, inner-city state championship teams since Desert View won one in 1991, and they might be the last for a while. That’s important to note for who Tony was, as his family points out in his beautiful obituary posted below.

Tony would text his “Morales brothers” from time to time about anything related to local sports – just things to think about and he would text box scores when the newspaper no longer wanted them. One year, when he was coaching Santa Rita, I drove by the baseball field because the field is right next to the road leading to the Lincoln Park softball fields and I looked over and Tony was working with two guys on an early Saturday morning just a few days before the season started. Not 20 guys, not 10. Two. I felt a sense of sorrow for him because of the struggles for participation at Santa Rita but, at the same time, a sense of gratitude for the time he put in helping those two players. I know 90% of the other coaches wouldn’t have put up with it.

Another time, I was covering a Santa Rita football game when Tony was the athletic director there and his students who were working the sideline sticks up and quit at half time so they could go to the stands and party with their friends. Tony gave me a look, I put my camera away, I picked up the main stick and did the second half for him. No problem. It was Tony.


February 8, 1959 – March 26, 2024

Born in Tucson in 1959, he was the son of the late Ruben Anthony Gabusi, Sr. & Edna Gabusi (née Carrillo), and elder brother to the late Richard (Rick) Gabusi. He was also predeceased by his aunt Diane Carrillo, Serafina Grace, his uncles Louie and Gil Carrillo, and his maternal grandparents Gilbert (Chato) and Amelia (Trini) Carrillo.

Tony is survived by his daughter Amelia (Amie) Gabusi, Aunt Dina Bolle & husband Kenneth Bolle, Sr., cousins Kenneth Bolle, Jr. and Allison Bolle, Patricia and her husband Benjamin Hurley, Sr., children Caitlin and Benjamin, Jr., and honorary family members Robin McCardle and Patricia (Cha) Duran. He also leaves behind best friend and very good boy Wilbur, his French Bulldog, as well as dear lifelong friends John Stapleton, Charles McCollum, & Kris Kanoza, coaching mentor Jerry Stitt, player-turned-colleague Edgar Soto, as well as hundreds of athletes from more than 40 years of coaching.

A lifelong Tucsonan, Tony graduated from Sacred Heart & Salpointe Catholic High School. He went on to study Mexican-American Studies, Biology, and Exercise Sports Science at the University of Arizona, and later received his Master’s in Education Administration from Northern Arizona University.

Tony (a diehard Dodgers fan) had a lifelong and meaningful career as a coach, educator and ambassador for collaborative athleticism. Coach Gabusi impacted schools all around the city, including the University of Arizona — as Assistant Coach (à propos for a third-generation Mexican-American Wildcat), Pima Community College, and many high schools including Catalina, Salpointe, Amphi, Cholla, Cienega, Mountain View, Santa Rita and Tucson High (recent inductee into the Badger Foundation Hall of Fame). He spent many summers coaching the USA High School Olympic baseball team in Joplin, MO, alongside beloved friend and mentor, Jerry Stitt. Tony provided leadership at countless seasonal baseball programs, molding up-and-coming athletes into leaders embodying honor, collaboration and sportsmanship on and off the field.

Coaching was Tony’s true passion, and during his career he was always an advocate for the underdog, nurturing passion over prestige in his players, because pure ‘love of the game’ meant more to him than accolades. With this mentality, “Busi” (as he was affectionately known) created champions out of low-income, dedicated players, as he did for the 2011 State Championship, when he coached the Catalina High School Trojans to victory.

The only notable thing that Tony loved more profoundly than baseball was his family. Best friend to both his late mother Edna and beloved daughter Amie, Tony fulfilled the roles of caretaker, protector, and partner-in-crime, always leading with irreverence and humor.

In honor of Tony and his contributions to high school baseball in Arizona, the Arizona Baseball Coaches Association (AzBCA) has dedicated the 4A All-Star game in his memory.

Services: Tuesday, May 28, 2024 at 10 am at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Parish, 1946 E. Lee St. Information regarding his celebration of life will be provided at the services.

Tony has requested that anyone in attendance please wear sports attire in tribute to his lifelong passion for athletics. As always, Bear Down & Go Dodgers!

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