Thursday, August 7, 2008
In loving memory of T.M. “Coach” Stone -- 1915-2008
By Mary R. Minor
Potts Camp lost a beloved coach, teacher, friend, mentor, advisor, servant, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, father-in-law, as well as other endearing terms, this past week.
“Coach,” as everyone knew him, was a leader of the community. After the Potts Camp Town Park was completed in 1990, town officials met to decide what projects needed to be completed and how to fund them before the softball and baseball season began.
In 1991, under the leadership of Coach Stone, the Potts Camp Park Boosters were organized. This group consisted of 20 men who recognized a need to become involved in the lives of children and to raise funds for the park.
In 1992 they began a fund-raiser of giving away a truck during the annual Fall Festival sponsored by the Potts Camp PTO. With funds raised from the ticket sales, their first project was blacktopping the roads and parking areas.
Other projects include an asphalt walking trail, completion of four wooden bridges, bathroom facilities, a pavilion, and installation of scoreboards. In the fall of 1996, the Park Boosters held their fifth truck give-away for the park. Initially the park included two ball fields and a picnic area.
Today the park has four ball fields, along with the addition of a concession stand, lighted fields and some playground equipment.
The 19th annual Potts Camp School Reunion was recently held. Coach and his wife, Annie Ruth, were the organizers of the “school reunions.” Coach also served as the master of ceremonies up until 2004 when his health began to fail.
Each year during these events, the story of the 1961 Overall State Basketball Champs was reiterated. Several team members of that famed event were in attendance and always the story was told of the hard work and practice, practice, practice that went into getting his “boys” into shape for the basketball games and tournaments.
Coach did not allow his team members to eat candy, drink “soda pops”, or stay out late, as he wanted his players to be in the best of shape for each game. If a player was caught doing one of the above evils, they paid the price of running laps until they dropped.
Coach also taught history at Potts Camp School in addition to coaching both the boys and girls teams.
To this day, former students and basketball players speak of the respect they had for their beloved teacher and coach. They also talked about the things they did and got away with without being caught. However, these times were few and far between.
In 2006 the “old gym” that was the location of Coach Stone’s tenure at PC High School was demolished after a report from a structural engineer indicated that the building was dangerous due to termite and structural deterioration.
In May 2007 a new building was completed and named the T. M. “Coach” Stone Multi-Purpose Building. Dedication ceremonies were held on June 2, 2007, following the 17th annual school reunion. Coach and a large number of his family and friends were in attendance.
Don Randolph, a former Potts Camp basketball player under Coach Stone, presided over the dedication ceremonies. Mitch Stone Jr., son of the coach, entertained with his musical abilities. Former basketball player, Sonny Cox, spoke of his basketball career and presented to Coach Stone his #5 basketball jacket.
Other comments were made from former students and basketball players in attendance. Also, the old backboard was brought in for everyone to sign. The day was very special.
Dr. James Lee Spencer, a member of the Class of 1961 and also one of the main string team members of the famed Overall State Champs, now a Baptist minister in Hernando, preached Coach’s funeral on Sunday afternoon, August 3, 2008. He spoke of the great love and respect he had for his teacher, mentor, coach and friend.
He stated that Coach Stone was one of the four people who influenced his life, the others being his father, J.L. Spencer; his pastor, Clint Scarborough; and his principal, Frank Hutchins. He stated, “Coach Stone may be gone from this earth, but he will live on in my heart forever.”
This was also the sentiment of the many family members and friends in attendance.
“Coach” we love you and will miss you!
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