Photo courtesy of Terry Sanders
Community mourns loss of coach
Elmore County High School athletic director Grady Rowe has died. The longtime teacher and coach was 57.
Rowe taught Algebra and Geometry and served as middle school football coach.
Principal Wes Rogers knows that a person like Rowe will not be replaced. "Coach Rowe embodied Eclectic and ECHS," he said. "Coach was a standout football player while playing for his mentor, Terry Burt. He went on to play at Marion Military Institute and later Jacksonville State University where he played for a DII National Championship in 1977, and he was a teammate of Randy Ragsdale, head coach at Trinity."
Rowe spent 22 years in the school system in Eclectic.
"He wore many hats," said Rogers. Rowe was athletic director for the past ten years. In addition to the middle school head coaching position, Rowe coached a variety of sports at different levels through the years.
"It is sometimes difficult to fill coaching slots, and he was always the one who would coach in spots that were hard to fill," Rogers noted. "He did so with great passion and enthusiasm.
"Grady was a dear friend who meant the world to me and everybody he encountered. He was certainly one of those people who made everyone around him a better person, and he will be deeply missed."
Terry Sanders played football with Rowe. The two graduated with the Class of 1975.
"He was a fine individual," Sanders said. "I had just seen him on Sunday."
Sanders recalled the Panthers 11-1 team in his senior year with Rowe as a teammate.
"Grady played hard. He had a drive and go get 'em type of personality," said Sanders.
Rowe's style worked well as a coach in Eclectic. "He coached both of his boys and my boys. He treated kids fairly. They loved him and played hard for him," Sanders added. "Everybody's pretty messed up about it. It's going to be a big loss to the school."
Eclectic police officer Art Hathcock was a friend of Rowe's. "Coach Rowe was one that you could very easily approach," he said. "Students loved him. You don't see that many teachers and coaches that students have that good rapport with. They're just drawn to them. They're just a good person on and off campus. He was a great coach, mentor and friend."
Hathcock was called in to work at the high school the day after Rowe's passing.
"It's going to be a very heartfelt loss for the school system," Hathcock said. "We used to sit in the lunchroom together and watch the kids. It's going to be hard to look over at that empty chair."
Rowe is survived by his wife, Gloria and two sons, William and Luke. He was a loyal member of Good Hope Baptist Church where he served as a deacon. Rowe was also a retired Lt. Colonel in Alabama Army National Guard. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Linville Memorial Funeral Home.