A memorial service for coach Buddy Fisher is set for Thursday, Sept. 21, at Rose Mortuary Mann Heritage Chapel, 6200 Kingston Pike in Knoxville.
The former Tennessee football captain died on Aug. 21.
Mr. Fisher came from Maxwell, Va., in 1960 to join the Volunteers as a fullback. He became an end, caught a few passes from Mallon Faircloth, knocked down several obstacles and was elected captain in 1963. What that says is he played better than his statistics – 17 career receptions, 315 yards, three touchdowns.
He coached at Oak Ridge, Bearden, Carter and Farragut high schools. His 72-29 record with the Farragut Admirals was one of the best in school history.
“I played for him at Oak Ridge and was on his coaching staff at Carter,” said Danny Sanders, former Carson-Newman and pro quarterback, now a building contractor in Knoxville.
“Coach Fisher’s leadership qualities were the best. He influenced many lives in a positive way. I will always have a smile on my face when I think of him.”
Sanders has a special memory.
“We had a 10-0 season at Carter in 1986. He was coach-of-the-year. He gave his assistants duplicate plaques and said we, too, were coaches of the year. I still have mine.”
Robbie Franklin, executive with Furrow Auction, was a UT freshman when Fisher was a senior.
“We were cannon fodder for the varsity in name and reality,” said Franklin. “Buddy Fisher was one of the toughest football players I have ever seen. In practice, it would too often be my job to block him. I couldn’t do it. I took a beating.”
Franklin remembers Fisher as a quiet leader.
“God blessed him with leadership skills. Buddy never said much but what he did was a great example. He never said anything about himself. He had rare humility – except on a football field.”
Mr. Fisher grew up on the family farm, a big farm with cattle and hay and other crops.
“He had that heritage,” said Franklin.
“He was accustomed to working for what he got. I always thought summers in hay fields helped make him a tough football player and an outstanding coach.”
Faircloth said Fisher was the consummate team player.
“When we had factions in our junior year, he would have no part of it. I think that is what made him the very best choice for Tennessee team captain in our senior year. He was a quiet leader who led by example. I never saw him get down or complain about anything; he just did the practice work and then his best in every game. He was a gentle giant or huge teddy bear, but he produced. He was one of those rare people who had no enemies.”
Faircloth recalled only two touchdown passes to his friend.
“I should have thrown to him more … he was never in anything but all-out mode. He selflessly set up other runners and receivers with many good blocks and catches to keep drives alive.”
Faircloth treasures the memory of their last outing together. They played golf.
“We were both awful golfers, but still had fun.”
Marvin West invites reader reaction. His address is [email protected].