Suzanne Mitchell, the legendary director of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, died Tuesday at the age of 73.
As director of the cheerleaders from 1976 to 1989, she transformed the group from relative unknowns to an international brand.
"Her inspiration will always have a presence within our organization and for fans of the DCC for generations to come," said Charlotte Jones Anderson, the executive vice-president of the Cowboys.
Former cheerleader Kelli Finglass, who now directs the squad, said Mitchell's legacy lives on.
"The tradition of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders is so ingrained in us because of Suzanne," she said. "I envied her and looked up to her as a coach. She was more than just kind of a managing director. She was a life coach."
Judi Trammell, a former cheerleader who is now the group's choreographer, echoed Finglass's comments.
"She just made the biggest impact on all of our lives," Trammell said. "And I think that we always wanted her to be proud. After she left the organization we wanted her to be proud and we wanted to carry on like she would."
Finglass and Trammell also said Mitchell was intensely patriotic and started the tradition of the cheerleaders performing for American troops around the world.
Mitchell lived most recently in Central Texas. A celebration of her life was being planned, and details were not released.