Thursday, September 3, 2009

Larry Wartes

For those who don't live in Hereford, you likely never heard of Larry Wartes. For those living in Hereford, you couldn't help but hearing of Wartes.

Mr. Wartes died Tuesday at age 80. He had lived in Hereford since 1967. He was first the head football coach for the Whitefaces and spent 17 years as assistant superintendent before retiring in 1988.

For lack of a better word, Larry was a character. You always knew when he was around. To echo sports editor Lance Lahnert, he always took time to talk to you.

I first met Larry in my first year at the Globe-News in 1981. I was a sportswriter covering Class 5A. Hereford had a great team that year and would go on to the state semifinals.

One of the first games I covered was at Hereford. I was a little unsure of myself and a little stressed. There was this guy in the Hereford press box holding court. He had a distinctive loud twang and an unlit cigar in his mouth. It was Larry.

He introduced himself to me. He wanted to know everything about me, from where I grew up to my family and anything else. He sounded genuinely interested in me and made me feel welcome. He kept asking if there was anything I needed, and had I said I could use a good meal afterward, he would have called wife Joyce to tell her to get something ready. Larry eased any rookie anxiety I had that night.

Over the years, in Hereford and in other press boxes, Larry was a welcome sight. He wasn't shy about giving you a hard time and he seemed a little disappointed if you didn't give him one back.

Two of his three children have taken a similar career path. Mike is the superintendent for the Canyon ISD after spending many years as a coach. Alan, the QB on that 1981 Hereford team, has been a fixture as offensive coordinator at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene.

As closely as Mike and Alan are like their dad, there will still be only one Larry Wartes.

No comments: