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BHS teams have lost a true friend

Bainbridge High School sports teams have lost a true friend and avid supporter.

That was the first of many fond memories that ran through my mind Monday when I heard the sad news that my dear friend and Climax resident Doyce Ariail had passed away Sunday.

Even after the Bainbridge High School football careers of his sons Chip, Scott and Pat were over, Doyce continued to go to games and support Bearcat football coaches and players through the years.

He would often call me to give me his thoughts about a particular game and encourage me to always be positive in reporting on young athletes.

Doyce, who proudly ran the Olympic torch through Climax prior to the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, loved young athletes, and young people in general, and he would be the first one to defend them if anyone tried to say anything negative about them. He loved to see them succeed.

He was so proud of his son, and my dear friend, Chip, and the very successful soccer program he has built at Bainbridge High School.

Chip whose dear wife, Lisa, is my colleague here at The Post-Searchlight, has coached seventh- and eighth-grade football and varsity kickers and has the same passion for young athletes and their welfare as his dear father. I believe, as they do, that sports builds character in young people.

Chip is the authority on Bainbridge High School football history and provides me with detailed statistical information, not only on football and soccer, but on all Bainbridge High School sports.

The Bearcat Wall of Fame at the Centennial Field field house, which contains photos and highlights of Bearcat football history, was totally produced by Chip, who by the way, is also an outstanding Hutto Middle School art teacher and artist.

I remember several years ago going to the Ariail home in Climax to interview Doyce, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, and his oldest son, Tom, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., who had just been promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

The broad smiles on both of their faces as I took their pictures seated side by side spoke volumes about how proud the father and son were of each other. That was a special moment for the Ariail family.

The two youngest Ariail brothers, Scott and Pat, were two of the best Bearcat defensive backs I have covered in my 39 years as sports editor of this newspaper. Scott went on to play at the University of Central Florida.

Doyce and his dear wife, Ann, who recently celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary, were one of the most loving Christian couples I have ever known.

I will never forget how they made my Thanksgivings and Christmases happier in the late 1990s when my dear late mother was a resident of Memorial Manor Nursing Home.

Knowing I was by myself and unable to go out of town to visit my family, they lovingly invited me to be with their family on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Their love and support during those Thanksgivings and Christmases were special. They brought me some joy and happiness during a very difficult time in my life.

My heartfelt condolences go out to Ann, Chip, Lisa, Tom, Scott, Pat and their families. They can take consolation knowing Doyce is with the Lord he loved so much.