To the Editor:
This past weekend, special tribute was paid to Coach Clifton Tribble, a former Lebanon High School football player, football coach, teacher and principal. This honor was well deserved. He was, and probably still is, the most accomplished runner in football history in Wilson County and any other county.
We graduated from LHS in 1954 and will celebrate our 55th high school reunion this spring. Our class has remained close over the years and we have enjoyed many reunions throughout the years. His nickname, “Twinkle Toes,” and mine, “Fat Rabbit,” has followed us through the years.
It was such an honor, Saturday, to see the many former football players, students, faculty and staff who came to pay tribute to a man who had influenced their lives in so many ways. His loving family was well represented by their show of love and their attendance.
Coach Tribble played college football for Kentucky and Middle Tennessee State University. Recently, I was invited to attend a luncheon in Smyrna, along with football players from MTSU and Tennessee Tech who played against each other in high school and college. They asked about Coach Tribble and remembered what an exceptional runner and team player he had been.
It was such a humble experience to hear his former football players get up and pay tribute to him. They all had life experiences to tell that have contributed to their successes. One former football player attributed Coach Tribble with helping save his life while in a tour in Vietnam. He said that when he would get into perilous situations in battle, he would remember the many lessons that Coach Tribble had taught him on the football field. A lot of the players told of humorous situations that had occurred on the football field. They told of the many conditions they had to adhere to, to be able to play for Coach Tribble. Many were humorous, and they thought sometimes too hard, but they knew they had to concur to be able to play football. It was a wonderful evening of remembrances, tears, hugs and accolades for Coach Tribble.
I had approached Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead, State Rep. Stratton Bone and Wilson County Mayor Robert Dedman to write proclamations honoring Coach Tribble. Rep. Bone’s will be delivered in a few days and the other two have been read and given to him.
Coach Tribble has always been a very humble person. When anyone would say anything about his running ability, he would always give credit to me and the line for his success in running the ball. Recently, I was at a funeral home and two different men came up to me and said how they remembered Coach Tribble and me playing football in the ’50s. It is always good to be remembered in this way after so many years. I know these remembrances will end as we are all aging and will forget.
I once read a poem that said, “A dead man cannot read his tombstone.” So, this tells us to honor people while they are still living. Tell them how much they have meant to you, and don’t wait until it is too late.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bob Byrd, Judge Clara Byrd, Ray Byrd and his wife; Ronnie, Eddie, Billy and Danny Sellars and their families, Peggy Tribble and all of Coach Tribble’s family and the many others who played a part in organizing this very deserving tribute.
So, Coach Tribble, here’s to you and to all you have meant to the hundreds of young men and women whose lives you have touched and made such a difference. We wish you the best always, and will look forward to spending time with you soon at our 55th high school reunion.
“Once a Blue Devil, Always a Blue Devil.”
Don Franklin, District 7Wilson County Commissioner,Watertown
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