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Family and friends remember former Bearcat Cary Dollar

BY ETHAN REDDISH

A notable member of the Bainbridge and Decatur community passed away last week. Joseph Cary Dollar, while born in Florida, grew up in Bainbridge. He graduated from Bainbridge High School in 1973, and would go on to work as a general contractor, before working the family business Dollar Farm Products with his cousin, Tommy Dollar.

One thing Mr. Dollar was known for was his love of football. He played for the Bainbridge Bearcats while in high school, and continued to support them well after his graduation. His son, Coach Joe Dollar, would go on to coach linebackers for the Bearcats. “He just always encouraged me to play, and then, as I got older, one of his sayings was ‘Find something you like doing and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ A lot of people say that, but it kind of just stuck with me. I enjoy football and being around kids.”

Like his father, Coach Dollar also played on the Bearcats in high school. “He was always encouraging. Again, he wanted me to give great effort, and always be someone that hustled and did the best that they could. But also to enjoy it, and appreciate the fact that, one day you won’t be able to.”

Several of Dollar’s former Bearcat teammates and lifelong friends spoke to the Post Searchlight about their memories of Dollar. “We were running buddies for quite a while,” Buz Livingston said. “You saw him, you saw me. I was real close to the family. You saw one of us, the other wasn’t going to be far away.” According to Livingston, Dollar made an impression on the seniors early in his high school football days. “Our sophomore year, he tackled one guy really hard, the captain of the team. So the seniors kind of picked on him after that.” He also spoke of Dollar’s skill as a defensive tackle, and how he managed to intercept a pass. “That’s hard for a defensive tackle,” he said. Even after high school, Livingston and Dollar would still cross paths. “I left Bainbridge twenty years ago, but I’d stumble across him every now and then, and it was like the good ole’ days.”

Gene Smith recalls being a friend of Carry since early childhood. “Probably from five years old,” he said. “As far back as I can remember, Cary was a classmate, a buddy… we played ball, and sometimes we’d be opponents. After junior high, we were on the same team.” Smith wasn’t able to speak with Cary as much after high school. “You have kids, and they have kids, and it gets hard to keep up with people from high school… But he was the type of daddy you could tell kids would like to have. He took solace in being able to relive the high school days with Joe as coach.” Smith concluded, “I’m saddened that I didn’t get to sit around and talk with him. But I was talking to our friends, and one thing I did learn was that Cary accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and that’s the most important thing.”

Another childhood friend, Reese Rollins, spoke to the Post Searchlight also. “I’ve known Cary all my life, since kindergarten.” Like so many others, sports was a source of bonding for them. “Most of our association was sports. We went to different elementary schools, so sports was our main connection.” Like others, Rollins would bump into Dollar in passing. “Mainly when we went off to college and came back, I’d see him in passing… We always reminisced a little bit, though I didn’t see him every week or month.” “It was always a pleasure to catch up with him. Super nice fella. He was just an upbeat guy.”

In life, Joseph Cary Dollar was a notable member of the Bainbridge community, who loved it, and was happy to call it home. “He’s always been a big Bainbridge Bearcats supporter,” Coach Dollar said. “He loved the community, he loved being part of it. He was proud. He would say he was proud of me, but really he was proud of all the members of the team, and the kids that made it happen. It made him proud, to know that it was his town, where he always lived. That was just as much a part of it as it was because I was coach.”