By: Rich Fischer
Many local residents came out last Tuesday morning, gathering in the high school gymnasium bearing his name, to remember and recognize longtime coach Harold Ray Jeffery who passed away on Tuesday, December 21 at the age of 91.
The numerous cars in the parking lot of the school were indicative of the large group of folks who gathered to share memories and pay tribute to the 1948 graduate of Calico Rock High School, who later served as the Pirates basketball coach for 33 years. His impact on the lives of all he coached and counseled was evident, both locally and across the state in many athletic circles.
The memorial service was led by Coach Jeffery’s one-time player and current local resident and City Councilman Charlie Wilson, who was assisted by Rev. Victor Jones, pastor of the Calico Rock Cumberland Presbyterian Church where Jeffery had been a member of the congregation for over 70 years.
Following an opening prayer delivered by Rev. Jones, Wilson shared some highlights of the Coach’s life as detailed in the obituary, which was followed by his singing of a hymn entitled, “Because He Lives”.
Rev. Jones delivered a heartfelt eulogy recounting some of his own personal interactions with the Coach, at one point asking anyone in the audience to raise their hand if they had received “swats” from Coach, an invitation to which there were no takers, however Jones confessed he had gotten his share, saying, “If Coach gave you swats, you probably deserved it.” Wilson also later fessed up to receiving a few swats himself.
In another inclusive moment, all in attendance who had been coached by Coach Jeffery were asked to stand, an invitation which resulted in nearly half in the gym rising in unison, all whose lives had been impacted positively by the Coach.
When delivering comments Wilson quoted Sam Walton’s wife who had at one time stated, “It’s not what you gather, but what you scatter in life” venturing that this was exemplary of Coach Jeffery’s overall life as he had scattered his love and wisdom amongst all with whom he interacted.
In retrospect, it is sometimes difficult to assess the level of influence or impact one was able to exert during life, something not hard at all to do with Coach. It was hugely apparent that this man loved and was beloved by his family, friends, students and the community at large. His professionalism was always tempered with kindness and a desire to give back.
From all of us in Calico Rock and beyond, thank you Coach for being the man you were and thank you Lord for allowing us to share a bit of his presence here on Earth.