Bainbridge man utters “roll tide” as his last words

Published 12:02 pm Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Bainbridge man passed away Tuesday, but as a life-long University of Alabama Crimson Tide fan, his last words uttered on this earth were words every Alabama fan know to mean both, “hello” and “goodbye.”

Neil Louis Eitson’s last clear words were “roll tide,” according to his wife Donna who was by his side.

Mr. Eitson, 58, had battled a form of throat and laryngeal cancer for two years. His sickness got worse after spreading to his lungs in September.

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“He loved Nick Saban,” wife Donna Eitson said about her late husband. “When Saban found out how sick Neil was and how big of a fan he was, he actually sent him a signed picture in September.”

The signed photo added, Mrs. Eitson said, to Eitson’s great collection of Alabama football and former Crimson Tide coach Bear Bryant memorabilia that was “everywhere” in their home.

Eitson had a regular Saturday routine during football season, Mrs. Eitson said. He would wake up, put on his lucky Alabama sweatshirt and cap and then watch football all day long.

After he passed away Tuesday, the sweatshirt was given to his sister; his wife will now wear his lucky cap.

“I guess you could say football was in his blood for a long time,” Mrs. Eitson said. “His father was a high school football coach at Bonifay High School in Quincy, Fla. and that is where his love of the game started.”

Eitson will be buried in Jasper, Ala., this week.