I have had a lot of memories with the new Hall of Fame inductees
Published 7:31 pm Friday, March 7, 2014
The opportunity I had to cover last Saturday night’s induction of four new members into the Decatur County Sports Hall of Fame at the Kirbo Center was very special to me.
I had the pleasure and honor of covering the careers of three of the four inductees and I enjoyed chatting with them about some of their career highlights.
One of the first honorees I approached was former Bearcat and 6-foot-nine-inch basketball center Raleigh Choice. He went on to play with the Florida State Seminoles and professionally in France, Spain, Switzerland, Greece, Portugal, South America, Italy and Japan.
I also enjoyed chatting with LaRae Davis, Choice’s teammate with the Bearcats and Seminoles, who introduced him. He remembered the strong teams they played with under late Bearcats head coach Charles Bess and former Seminoles head coach Pat Kennedy, who was from my former hometown of Keyport, N.J. His family and my family were back door neighbors growing up, and while I did not know him, his older brother Wally Kennedy and I were good friends.
We moved from Keyport to my dear late mother’s hometown of Cairo when I was 12 and in the sixth grade.
With Davis’ deadly shooting and Choice, who dominated down low, controlling the games, Coach Bess’ teams from that era were truly strong.
The second inductee whose high school sports career I enjoyed covering was LeAnn Harrell Inlow who was outstanding in basketball, softball and tennis. Today, Bainbridge High School gives awards to their most outstanding senior male athlete of the year and their most outstanding senior female athlete of the year.
When Harrell Inlow and former Lady Cats basketball player Carol Chason Whitmire — who was inducted into the Decatur County Sports Hall of Fame last year — were seniors, only one outstanding senior athlete of the year award was given and they won it beating out all the guys in their class that year.
LeAnn, who also came home and coached Bainbridge High School Lady Cats basketball and tennis following her college career which included playing on a national championship basketball team with the Georgia Lady Bulldogs and a national championship softball team with the Florida State Lady Seminoles and her playing career with the Tifton Tom Boys.
The third hall of fame inductee that I had the pleasure of covering was William Widener who turned out outstanding Bainbridge High school bands and city of Bainbridge swimmers as coach, swim instructor, life guard, pool manager, water safety instructor and swim meet director. He also coached diving. He organized the first Inland Port Swim Meet in 1964.
At the banquet, I also enjoyed meeting Elizabeth (Buffie) Cox Marks and W. Cary Cox, Jr., daughter and son of the late Cary Cox, the fourth inductee, who was an All-Conference and All-Southern performer with the Bearcats football team, an All-American center and linebacker with the Alabama Crimson Tide football team and a World War II military hero. They talked about how proud their father was to be from Bainbridge. Cox is also a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
I apologize for erroneously identifying inductee Cox’s son as W. Cary Cox Inlow Junior in the caption under the photo of the Hall of Fame inductees holding their plaques that appeared on page 1B of our Wednesday, March 5 edition.