Legendary Vol ‘collector’ Bud Fields has died

Marvin WestObits, westwords

There are different descriptions of Bud Fields.

To some, he was a home builder and renovator. Good man.

To some, he was Knoxville’s most determined advocate of volleyball, a former player and coach with international connections. Influential.

Bud Fields (Photo from UT Sports Information)

To some, he was a loyal, perceptive fan of Tennessee football. He attended every home game for 46 years. Fortunate.

He was a unique collector of Volunteer photographs and newspaper clippings. He filled 11 large wallpaper sample books to overflowing. Amazing.

Fields said he had a picture of every football player who ever played for the Vols, from the first season in 1891 to 2008. I had a vested interest. Those books also sheltered some very descriptive westwords.

Arthur L. “Bud” Fields, 87, died on Friday after a few months of heart and kidney problems. He is survived by Carole Ely Fields, his wife of 63 years; son Art and daughters Cissie King and Mary Zirkle.

The Fields family will have a private graveside service this week and a public celebration of life at a later date. Memorials in Bud’s name may be given to the Berean Bible Church, 2329 Prosser Road, Knoxville 37914.

Fields played volleyball at old Knoxville High School and the Knoxville YMCA. He started the volleyball club team at the University of Tennessee in 1967 and served as coach for half a lifetime.

When UT formed a women’s athletics department, Fields coached the Lady Vols for two seasons, 1976-78.

Volleyball returned considerable recognition. Fields was a member of the National YMCA Hall of Fame, Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame and University of Tennessee Athletics Hall of Fame.

He was official photographer for USA Volleyball for more than two decades. He received the Frier Award in 1997, the highest honor USA Volleyball bestows.

Fields devoted similar effort to gathering and preserving the football treasures. That mission was launched in 1941. He attended his first UT game and, a few days later, found an old box of very old newspaper clippings in his great aunt’s basement.

Bud clipped Volunteer stories and pictures from the News-Sentinel and Journal and pasted them onto his bedroom walls – until he ran out of walls. He filled a cardboard box. And another.

Eventually, he found an easier way to do what he did. He gathered culled photos from Saturday night waste baskets at the newspapers. That wasn’t as easy as it sounds.

“Sometimes you guys would tell me to scram.”

When Fields went into the Air Force, his mother wanted to throw out the collection. He saved it – under his bed. He asked relatives and friends to help maintain his project while he was away.

Four years later, he got serious. He begged and bought 8×10 pictures from the famous Thompson studio. People gave him football pictures of fathers and grandfathers. He had some copied from early UT annuals

When the Journal went away, Bud got what would have been football discards. He paid the UT photo lab for hundreds of pictures. He negotiated an exchange program with UT sports information. He gave up some game program covers and received some spare photos.

He put the mission into perspective.

“The collection cost quite a bit of money and many hours over the many, many years.”

At age 80, he decided enough was enough. Private collectors wanted the big books. A former Vol contributed $10,000 toward Fields’ expenses to keep them in the family. They are where they should be, somewhere in the vast UT athletics department, probably in a vault.

Oh my, I almost forgot to tell you that Bud Fields had other collections – a scrapbook from the Knoxville and Central high school rivalry, 1911 to 1952; two big books about UT basketball from 1909 through 2006; and five filled with volleyball adventures.

Marvin West welcomes reader comments or questions. His address is [email protected]

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