Friday night I was at the Times Christmas party when I got some news that dragged me down a bit. Benny Davis had passed after having a stroke a few days prior. Benny was a lot of things to me a coach, a teacher, and most importantly a friend. After I shared the news with many in attendance everyone seemed to have a fond memory of him. When I shared the obituary on Facebook I saw many other fond memories being shared. Though I can never capture the true essence of Benny in this writing I am gonna try.
I will start with Benny the teacher. I had already known Benny by the time I arrived at Jacksboro Middle School so I was excited to see that I had him for history when I got there. Needless to say Benny made learning history a hoot. I won’t say everyone in class had a nickname, though most did. For you see Benny was a great bestower of nicknames. I was nicknamed Porky, because well let’s be honest I was a porky child. He not only regaled the class with tales of history but also with tales of his girlfriend Lulu. Lulu in her tutu was his way of giving students an easy conversation started that did not always have to do with the class at hand. He kept a picture of Lulu in her tutu in the room. It often disappeared to be replaced with a new one. He seemed to have an endless supply of multiple Lulu’s.
Then there was coaching. I only had Benny as a football coach for a year though I am pretty sure he was also helping coach basketball as well. Fortunately Benny did line coaching at Jacksboro which put us together. Benny had a different approach to teaching football than he did teaching academics but it was equally effective. I wish I had written some of them down to use later in life but at the time I had no desire to coach. Later Benny went on and took over as head coach of the Owls of LaFollette, this was heartbreaking to me because they were our bitter enemies (middle school thought process right there). The next time I saw Benny I did not know what to expect because he had traded his blue and gold for orange and white. Thankfully what I got was Benny, same big smile, same Benny attitude, he even mentioned Lulu to me.
During his tenure as coach at LaFollette he made a positive impact on many lives of young athletes. That was obvious from this sad event as the memories his players have posted warmed my heart. I never coached against Benny as his tenure as Owl’s coach was before my coaching days. What I know is that if I had it would have been a chess match. I also know it would have featured a hearty handshake and a probable mention of Lulu in the post game.
Benny the friend is the easiest to write about but the shortest. He was just that guy. You know the one always ready to talk about the good times with you over a beer. But also ready to get you through the bad times, also probably over a beer. It did not matter that I was a former student or player after I became an adult it mattered that he was my friend.
Now Benny has left us. This is fine. Benny led a full life. Benny was one of the good guys. Benny raised a wonderful daughter who gave him a pair of wonderful grandchildren. Do not cry for Benny Davis,though I will admit I did when I got home that Friday. Be thankful you knew him. Be happy he touched so many lives in so many positive ways. Be happy we had a Benny Davis in out lives not everyone was so lucky.