of Albany Sports Hall of Fame Members


Durward Pennington, Class of 1958

November 26, 1939 - March 4, 2013


Memorial services are scheduled for Thomas Durward Pennington, Jr., 73, who died Monday, March 4, 2013. Services will be held Thursday, March 7, 2013, at 4:00 pm at the Gainesville First United Methodist Church. Dr. Terry Walton and Dr. D.B. Shelnutt will officiate. The family will receive friends on Wednesday, March 6 from 5-8 pm at Little & Davenport, 355 Dawsonville Hwy., Gainesville, GA.

Durward was born in Albany, GA and graduated from Albany High School (Class of 1958) where he was a four sport letterman and is in the Albany Sports Hall of Fame. He went to the University of Georgia on a football scholarship and kicked the winning point to secure the SEC title for Georgia in 1959. In 1961 he kicked a 52 yard field goal that was a UGA record for 13 years. After graduation Durward was drafted by the Buffalo Bills and played two years for the Dallas Texans.

In 1965 Durward came to Gainesville High School as an assistant football coach where he was affectionately known as “Coach P.” After eight years he left GHS for a business position with his father-in-law, Charles Thurmond, but Durward never gave up coaching. He continued as a volunteer coach for GHS athletics throughout his life and had a positive influence on generations of young men. One former student comments, “I first met Coach P. in seventh grade but he has coached me the rest of my life.” Another student says, “He was not only a coach but a compassionate friend who did so much for so many behind the scenes.” “Durward never turned his back on any athlete who needed words of encouragement or financial help, “according to Wayne Vickery, longtime friend and Gainesville High Athletic Director. Because of his unselfish dedication to young people Durward received the Kiwanis Youth Service Award in 2002. He was also awarded an honorary diploma from Gainesville High School for his unwavering support through the years. Also, Durward has continued to be a loyal University of Georgia supporter by endowing the Durward and Betsy Pennington Scholarship for football players.

Throughout his life Durward was a devoted family man, husband, father and grandfather. His calm demeanor and love supported his family through happy and sad times. He enjoyed being surrounded by his grandchildren, especially at the beach. He took great pleasure watching his grandchildren participate in sports. He treasured his friends and was loved by many.

Durward was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas Durward Pennington, Sr., and Irene Davenport Pennington, his brother, Milton Jackson Pennington and his grandson, Tyler Wahl Safarriyeh. He is survived by his loving wife of 51 years, Betsy Thurmond Pennington; son and daughter-in-law, Thomas Durward Pennington III and Melissa Miller Pennington; daughter and son-in-law, Susan Pennington Rosetti and Marcus Rosetti; and daughter and son-in-law, Carrie Pennington Safarriyeh and Jeff Safarriyeh; grandchildren, Thomas Durward Pennington IV, Sophie Rosetti, Grant Rosetti, Olivia Rosetti, Brandon Safarriyeh, Ella Safarriyeh, Blake Safarriyeh and Emma Safarriyeh; sister, Becky Pennington Knight; and nieces and nephews; Ladd Murphy, Lady Muphy Harcrow, Cristen Pennington Everett and Jackson Pennington.

Albany Herald | COLUMN: There will never be another like Albany's Durward Pennington - Loran Smith



Frank Harrison Hedrick

*** ALBANY — Jackson Murphy was born long after his grandfather, Frank Hedrick, fought in WWII and years after he played alongside Arnold Palmer in the 1949 U.S. Amateur before rising to the top of Albany’s golfing scene.

But for Murphy, those stories are still alive — and so is the memory of his grandfather, who passed away in December 2001.

“He is part of the greatest generation, and if they had to write a book on the greatest generation they could write one on him,” Murphy said. “He could be the lead character.”

Hedrick was the star in just about everything he did during his 84 years as a resident of Albany. On Monday he will be posthumously inducted into the Albany Sports Hall of Fame for a lifetime’s worth of achievements in athletics.

It all started for Hedrick in the 1920s and ’30s at Albany High School.

He was a starting guard on the Indians’ basketball team and was instrumental in establishing the school’s first prep golf team.

Hedrick, who was the oldest of seven children, went to Duke after graduating from high school, but he didn’t stay away from Albany for long. His college days were cut short because of the Great Depression, which caused him to return home and help on the family farm.

He left the farm for the military upon the outbreak of WWII and became a command pilot of a B-24 Liberator bomber, completing 36 missions — including many bombing raids on Nazi strongholds in Eurupe — and never losing a single crewman.

“He was proud of the fact he served and proud that all of his flight crews came home safe,” Murphy said. “He was always a leader.”

The war hero quickly turned into a local golfing legend.

In the late 1940s, he became president of the prestigious Radium Country Club and, at times, kept the course alive financially through tough times. Hedrick, who learned to play golf on the sand greens of the American Legion Club and with the help of golf publications, played in the 1949 U.S. Amateur and in the 1957 British Amateur and won the inaugural Doublegate County Club championship in 1965.

Murphy, who got to play with his grandfather several times in the ’80s and ’90s, remembers Hedrick as a “no-nonsense golfer.”

“As soon as he hit his tee shot he would be in the golf cart and riding down the fairway before the ball even landed,” Murphy said. “He was all business out there on the course.”

Hedrick was named state director of the State Amateur Golf Association and served on the board of directors with the world-renowned Bobby Jones. He eventually became president of the Georgia State Golf Association and promoted the participation of juniors and seniors throughout the state.

He was also a family man.

“I remember sitting on the front porch waiting for my dad to come home from work,” said Bill Hedrick, Frank’s son who is now an established attorney in Albany. “I would be sitting there with my glove and his glove, and when he got home we would toss the baseball around.

“We even had a basketball goal in our front yard, and he would shoot baskets with me. I never became as good a player as he was, but it wasn’t from his lack of effort.”

Basketball was another sport Hedrick excelled in.

He was 6-foot-3 — “a gentle giant,” as Murphy would say — and starred for several years on the Albany Blues semi-pro team, which competed against major universities and other semi-pro teams.

He loved the competition, but he also loved the companionship that sports brought him.

“He made friends that lasted forever,” Bill Hedrick said. “He may not have been the most gifted athlete in the world, but he loved to compete and benefited from it by making friends he had his whole life.”

His true companion, however, was his wife, Clarice, whom he married in 1940 and had two children with, Bill and Gail Hedrick Murphy.

The two stayed married for 54 years before she died in 1994, and it was a marriage that Murphy said was “as close to perfect as you can get.”

“I’d say they lived a fairy tale-type marriage,” Murphy said. “They went through the tough times and came through and persevered.”

Along with the other four inductees in the 26th annual ceremony, Hedrick will be honored for his life-long achievements at tonight’s banquet.

“I know he will be looking down from heaven and smiling at us,” Murphy said. “He would be honored for this award.”




In Loving Memory of "Harold Dean Cook"

It'll Take Quite A Man to Fill His Place ~ AHS 1953 Thronateeska

Date of Birth:
December 25, 1933
 Date of Death: April 8, 2010
The funeral service of Harold Dean Cook, 76, of Albany, GA who died Thursday, April 8, 2010 at Lee County Health Care, will be conducted Saturday at 11:00 AM at Byne Memorial Baptist Church.  Dr. J. Matthew Nance will officiate.  Interment will follow in Crown Hill Cemetery.
A native of Colquitt, GA, Harold Dean also lived in Baker Co., GA and moved to Albany at a young age.  He was a 1953 graduate of Albany High School where he lettered in football, baseball and basketball.   Harold Dean was awarded a football scholarship to the University of Georgia where he earned all SEC honors as a freshman starter.  He graduated from the University of Georgia in 1958 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education and later a Masters Degree in Education and Administration from Middle Tennessee State University.
Harold Dean began his coaching career at the newly formed Central High School in Thomasville from 1958.  He coached football, girls’ basketball and taught Physical Education.  He left Central in 1961 and returned to Albany as assistant football coach to the late Pat Field, longtime mentor and friend.  Harold Dean succeeded Coach Field as head coach and held that position for six years.  He also served as Headmaster at Worth Academy and Riverview Academy before becoming Director of Plant Services for Doughty County School System where he remained for thirteen years.  After leaving there, he taught Physical Education and was Assistant football coach at Fitzgerald High School for one year.  Then he became Director of Plant Services for the Worth County School System where he remained until his retirement in 1996.
Harold Dean was inducted into the Albany Sports Hall of Fame in 1990 and served on the Selection Committee for a number of years.  He was also a member of the UGA Letterman’s Club and Wally’s Boys.
Harold Dean was a member of Byne Memorial Baptist Church and the A&P Sunday School Class.
Mr. Cook was also a Master Brick and Stone Mason and was always known for his hard work ethic.  He loved to garden and work in his yard.  He also enjoyed fishing and taking canoe trips with his friends.  Also when his children were young, he took his family on camping trips every summer.  Harold Dean was a big Country Music fan, as well as Cajun and Blue Grass.   
Survivors include his wife, Carolyn Payne Cook of Albany, GA, two daughters, Kim Hays and her husband, Jeff of Cumming, GA, Kelly Cook of Albany, GA, a son, Steve Cook and his wife April of Lee Co., GA and five grandchildren, Jennifer Ramirez and her husband David of Jacksonville, FL, Kelcie Hays, Harrison Hays both of Cumming, GA, Tyler Cook and McKenzie Cook both of Lee County, GA.
The family will receive friends Friday from 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM at Mathews Funeral Home.  
Those desiring may make donations to Byne Memorial Baptist Church, 2832 Ledo Road, Albany, GA 31707 or the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter, 1512-1 Gillionville Road, Albany, GA 31707.
To sign our online registry or to send condolences to the family, you may visit Mathews’ website at Mathews Funeral Home 229-435-5657

Mathews Funeral Home





Bulldogs bid farewell to one of Wally's boys

Athens Banner-Herald  |  Story updated at 10:33 pm on 6/28/2009

 Loran Smith

more Smith columns...

When Cleve Clark, a Georgia football letterman from 1953-55, died last week, his service became a reunion of the 1950s-era players who labored under the practice-field intensity of Wallace Butts.

Throughout their post-campus lives, these former players have often gathered to reminisce about their Spartan life under their beloved coach.

Butts was a taskmaster and a perfectionist. He required a boot-camp regimen, which served him well in his heyday of the '40s, but probably worked against him as attitudes changed late in his career.

Butts, however, remained steadfast in his belief that those who practiced the hardest would be the most likely to succeed in the fourth quarter.

With abundant talent, he triumphed more often than not, but the risk, without deep talent, is that games can be lost on the practice field.

Wally's boys of the '50s never considered it important to debate Butts' coaching philosophy. They revered their coach, and they considered it a badge of honor to be a Wally alumnus.

Today, whenever they congregate for any reason, even if it is a social gathering of three or four, the conversation usually turns to the days on the practice field and the colorful vernacular of their coach.

They forever reflect back to a practice session when the humdrum of the daily routine was spiced by a comment by the colorful Butts, whose verbiage made them stifle a mouthful of laughter. Nobody laughed until afterwards when they were certain they were out of earshot of their coach.

His style would be akin to a platoon leader wisecracking with mortar fire enveloping his battlefield unit.

Coach Butts was a clever, funny man with caustic wit. His verbal ability to graphically define a practice-field shortcoming is legend among his former players.

The 1950s were not the best of times for Butts. His teams, after winning three Southeastern Conference titles and two national championships in the 1940s, struggled throughout the next decade of his career until 1959 when his underdog team claimed a fourth SEC title.

Although there was not a frequency of high moments for those struggling teams, something took place that has served their roster members well. The bonding that came about is heartwarming. There was no dissention, contempt, or disharmony when they played - and nothing of the sort has hung over in their after years. There is a brotherly love that has strengthened their friendship with the passing of time.

None of them had greater affection for Coach Butts than Cleve Clark, although when the 5-foot-7 Butts dashed over to chastise the 6-5 Clark, they were the classic odd couple. Cleve admitted that, although he towered over his coach, he was deathly afraid of him. All of Wally's boys felt the same way.

When he arrived on campus from Albany, Cleve unpacked for life under the "Little Round Man," as Butts was known, with the awareness that there were many in his hometown who told him he was not tough enough to survive his tutelage.

He was determined to show them. He succeeded.

In every athlete's career, there is a singular and unforgettable moment. Cleve's came in the 1955 Georgia-Vanderbilt game between the hedges. Vandy got out front 13-0, but the Dogs came back to win 14-13. Cleve caught an 11-yard pass for Georgia's first score and made a critical third-down catch on the game-winning drive.

When his heart gave out on him last week, and he moved on to that great gridiron in the sky, in all probability he would have agreed that his greatest achievement was being one of Wally's boys.

Loran Smith is a contributing columnist for the Athens Banner-Herald. E-mail:

Originally published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Monday, June 29, 2009



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