It’s Bobby Walden Highway

Published 7:50 pm Friday, April 24, 2009

A former teammate, along within city, county and state officials, joined family and friends at Bainbridge College’s Charles H. Kirbo Regional Center Friday afternoon to honor Bobby Walden and formally name a portion of U.S. 84 East as Bobby Walden Highway.

Walden is a Bainbridge resident and former Cairo High School Syrupmakers All-State halfback, University of Georgia Southeastern Conference leading punter and Pittsburgh Steelers two-time Super Bowl champion punter.

The portion of U.S. 84 in Decatur County from the Grady County line west to the traffic light on Whigham Dairy Road within the limits of Wiregrass Georgia Parkway was dedicated as the Bobby Walden Highway under a resolution passed by the Georgia General Assembly and introduced by Rep. Gene Maddox of Cairo.

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Rep. Maddox said he first saw Walden play when he was a veterinary school student at Georgia and is proud to call him a long time friend.

“Georgia coach Wally Butts didn’t like to play football on his end of the field, and Bobby’s long, booming punts made sure he didn’t have to,” Maddox said.

Former Bulldogs fullback Bill Godfrey, who played in the same backfield with Walden at Georgia, called the honoree, known as “The Big Toe From Cairo” the greatest football player he had ever seen.

“Bobby could do everything on a football field,” Godfrey said. “He could punt, kick, run the football and pass the football.”

Bainbridge Mayor Mark Harrell, Cairo Mayor Richard Vanlandingham and Decatur County Board of Commissioners Chairman Palmer Rich thanked Walden for all the positive contributions he has made to Bainbridge, Decatur County, Cairo and Grady County.

Walden’s son, Bobby Walden Jr., called his father an inspiration.

“From the time I was old enough to know what a football was, I was around him and other great Pittsburgh Steelers like quarterback Terry Bradshaw, wide receiver Lynn Swann and linebacker Jack Lambert.” Bobby Jr. said. “They all knew what it took to win.”

Bill Stanfill, an outstanding defensive lineman with the Cairo Syrupmakers and an All-American at Georgia who played on the defensive line for the undefeated 1972 Super Bowl champion Miami Dolphins and also has a portion of U.S. 84 in Grady County named in his honor, thanked Walden inspiring him during his playing days.

Walden and Stanfill were recently inducted into the Grady County Sports Hall of Fame.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Georgia Department of Transportation District Engineer Joe W. Sheffield and State Transportation board member Johnny Floyd unveiled a sign proclaiming Bobby Walden Highway as Walden and Rep. Maddox looked on.