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Remembering the amazing lives of Good and Bossie

By Frank Giardina

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Kanawha Valley lost two iconic coaching figures on May 17, when Delmar Good and Tom Bossie passed away. 

With their passing, the Valley's sports history lost some of its heart and some of its soul. 

Both had long careers as multi-sports coaches. Good became the head football and track coach at Dunbar High School in 1957 and coached for 29 seasons. In football, he had an undefeated season in 1964, was the AAA state runner-up to Bluefield in 1965. He won two state track championships. He also was an assistant basketball coach on the Bulldog teams that won state titles in 1966 and 1985.

Longtime Dunbar fans still regret the fact that the Bulldogs had to play the 1965 title game at the old Laidley Field without their star defensive tackle, John Meeks, who missed the game with a leg injury.

Good's son Jeff recalls his dad never cursed or screamed at practice.

"When he would chastise players he would use such phrases as "great day in the morning, son," or "Jee-minney," said the younger Good. "He had many great players such as Melvin Walker, Freddie Clark, Larry Carter, Heywood Smith, Chuck Johnson, Tony Harris and others. In track, he coached Billy Lipscomb, Speedy Harrison and pole vaulter Dieter Garrett."

Before coaching, Delmar Good was a tremendous athlete. He was a football and basketball hero at Dunbar as a sophomore and junior. Amazingly, he did not get to play his senior year as he was serving in WWII. When he should have been playing his senior year of football, he was storming Utah Beach in Normandy, France on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

After American and allied troops defeated the Germans in France, Good took the American flag down and presented it to the French delegation in Cherbourg.

In 2003, Good was honored for his heroism by a French ambassador who came to Charleston and presented him with the Medaille de la France Liberee (Liberated France Medal) and Croix de Guerre (War Cross). His daughter, Deena Good Pittman, is a full colonel in the Army. 

Delmar Good was more than a football coach. He was a "man's man," a true Patriot and an American hero.

Bossie also was a great athlete and a military hero. After high school, he put off going to college to serve his country in the Navy. He served with distinction aboard the USS Simms in the south Pacific. After the war, he played football at Morris Harvey in 1948 and 1949.

He was a teacher and coach for more than 40 years. As the head football coach at DuPont High School, he took the Panthers to the 1972 AAA state championship game.  

He also had several players who went on to outstanding coaching careers, including Jim Fout, Fred Myers, Benny Hopkins and Neil Hopkins. Another former Bossie disciple, Tim Perry, is one of the best football coaches in Arkansas high school football history.

Bossie also had success as a wrestling coach, leading DuPont to multiple Kanawha Valley Conference championships. Among his top wrestlers were Ken Pritt, Bobby Pritt, Keith Ellison and Kent Sheets. He produced a state champion in Robert Jennings in 1970. 

In every sport and in phys ed class, Bossie often took time to teach his students how to looking a classmate in the eye, introducing himself and give a good, firm handshake. It was the first step toward making a good impression and something Good felt the young men should know. Former DuPont, WVU and Rhodes Scholar quarterback Dan Williams says that to this day he thinks of Bossie every time he greets someone with a handshake.   

Hopkins recalls that in 1964, after a game with Bluefield, several key Panther players were involved in a party that broke team rules. Hopkins recalled that "on Monday at practice, Coach Bossie read off a list of players and asked them to come up as he called their names. He then said, 'Gentlemen, you are no longer a part of this football program. Get your stuff and get out.' "

Can you imagine that happening today? Parents would storm the principal's office and school board meetings.  

We lost former Good and Bossie, but the lessons they taught will live forever.  

Reach Frank Giardina at flg16@hotmail.com.

 


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