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I Called Him Coach

He was born David Clark Mosely, but say the name “Butch” and everybody knew who you were talking about. It was different for me, though. Every time I saw him, and that was many times, I addressed him as Coach.

I was a high school student in Pelham in the mid-1960’s when a young well-dressed, golden-haired man from Climax, Georgia came to be our Physical Education coach. At that time, most of our teachers seemed to be older. Butch Mosely looked as if he was an All-American student in the high school, himself.

Coach had the sort of personality that would be the hallmark of his life. It didn’t matter if he was part of the faculty or a member of the student body, everybody like Butch Mosely. Who wouldn’t? He wore those button-down collared shirts, was good-natured, thin and in great shape, and had another thing that he kept all his life. That pretty hair!

I graduated before he officially took over the boys’ basketball team, but it didn’t matter whether the player was black or white, Butch Mosely could coach basketball. He had many teams that competed for the state title. I’ve always thought that if he had wanted to make a career out of coaching basketball, he would have had a plaque in the Georgia Coaches Hall of Fame.

But Butch had bigger fish to fry. He moved into the administration of schools. To list the number of schools and counties he served in his career as a school administrator would take more words than this column is allotted.

The Georgia Department of Education Superintendent Richard Woods called him a “giant.” Certainly over his decades of service in that important and, often controversial, position many personal and political skills were needed. Superintendent Woods didn’t highlight the technicalities of Mosely’s service.

Woods spoke of more important aspects of Coach’s life. “…even beyond that experience, he brought insight and integrity to everything he did. Dr. Mosely was grounded in common sense, his core was rural Georgia, and he always had the heart of an educator. He leaves behind an unmatched legacy.”

The Governor of Georgia weighed in on the favorite son of Climax. “Butch dedicated his career to putting students and teachers first, and our state is better for his service.”

Those are wonderful comments from the high and mighty, but the everyday people of Decatur County and the other places where Butch Mosely served had greater and different praise for him.

A friend of mine, who knew him well, put it like this. “Butch had a way of, when he was talking to you, making you feel like the conversation was all about you. That you were the only person that mattered to him.”

I would imagine when Coach was talking to those basketball players who, although gifted in athletics and important to his team, felt that he was more interested in their personal lives than in what they could do for him on a basketball court.

Whether it was as boys’ basketball coach in a small city school system like Pelham, Georgia, or a much bigger challenge as School Superintendent of an ailing Dougherty County school system, the bottom line with David Clark Mosely was this statement that he gave to WALB-TV upon his retirement. “I love what I do, and I love to work with young people. I love to see good things happen to them.”

From the good ole boy and pine trees of Climax to the biggest school systems in Georgia, Butch Mosely loved to see good things happen to other people. Call him Butch and I’ll understand, but, for me, I’ll say, “Well done, good and faithful Coach!”