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4/28/03 - Beckville

Students Remember East Texas Coach, Teacher

   They were remembering a friend Monday in Beckville. The tiny school north of Carthage lost coach Jack Murphy, but to his friends, students, and athletes, he was more than just a coach.

   "He was an excellent classroom teacher," says Beckville Superintendent John Booth. "He taught science and he felt it was important, and he did a wonderful job. He was a teacher first, then he was a coach."

   According to DPS, Murphy was killed when his car was hit head-on late Saturday night. The other driver, 48 year old Willie Ford of Kilgore, was also killed when his truck crossed over into Murphy's lane on Highway 149 just after midnight.

   As a junior high teacher and high school coach, Murphy was a part of many lives. His students paid tribute Monday by making banners and signing cards for him.

   "He believed in educating," Beckville coach Gordon Gray said. "Whether it's in a weight room, or it's on a basketball gym, baseball diamond, in a classroom, it's all the same. It's all learning about life, how to succeed, and how to win. Jack was a part of that."

   Jack helped coach all the sports at Beckville. His baseball team was scheduled to play their last game of the season Monday afternoon. The coaches asked the team what they thought, and the kids said coach would want the game to go on.

   "It makes me feel real good," Beckville baseball coach Wynn Short says. "They came up with ways to honor him, retire his jersey, sign a baseball. It's just great how they've come together."

   "They said they felt like Coach Murphy would want them to play the game," Superintendent Booth says. "They want to play the game in honor of Coach Murphy. That's how they have chosen to deal with this."

   So while his athletes and students and friends pay tribute to Coach Murphy, they realize he was much more than just a coach.

   "His positive spirit and the concept of education, and teaching is fundamental. He felt teaching is important, and learning is important. Those two legacies are his."

  Murphy, who is the son of legendary Gladewater Bears coach Jack Murphy Sr., coached at Beckville for the last two years. Before that, he spent eleven years coaching and teaching in Hallsville.

   The funeral for Jack Murphy will be at 2:01pm on Wednesday, at the First United Methodist Church in Gladewater. That's a significant time for Murphy, as it was for his father. They would schedule practices at odd times, stressing to the players how important every minute was.

   Beckville schools will dismiss at noon on Wednesday. In Hallsville, they will also let students leave early to attend the funeral.

   Reid Kerr, (rkerr@kltv.com), reporting.

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