By Tim Chambers
You can’t say Johnson County High School without saying Coach Harold Arnold. Coach went to paradise on Monday, July 10, 2017 after 90 years on this earth.
Coach Arnold was an icon to all those who knew him. He was a loyal member of First Christian Church and served our country in WWII as a member of the U.S. Navy.
It would take a scroll to list all the organizations that he belonged to that included playing football at Lees-McRae and ETSU.
He leaves behind a daughter, Donna, and a son, Steve, plus a vast number of friends that included legendary hall of fame referee, Ralph Stout, and hall of fame coach, Charlie Bayless of Happy Valley.
He spoke highly of the duo on the day that I interviewed him in addition to Joe Atwood just two years ago.
I’ll never forget the day that he kindly welcomed me into his home. It was so easy to find. The Longhorn emblem on his mailbox stood out.
We sat on the front porch on a breezy Sunday afternoon. Several people were walking the street that he lived on including high school Principal Lisa Throop and director of schools Mischelle Simcox.
He greeted them with a wave and asked how each was doing.
Then we went on with our interview.
I learned that he was a standout three-sport athlete and later played football at East Tennessee State College.
I was fascinated to know that he joined the Navy while in high school. He spent two years in the South Pacific and would later come home and earn his high school diploma.
He became Johnson County’s high school football coach in 1952. Sixty-five years later he would be laid to rest in a county where he was greatly respected and loved.
I had never met this man nor had I ever talked to him, yet he made me feel special upon our inaugural meeting. He was very proud of his 1958 football team and a couple more in the mid 60’s.
We talked about our Lord and about loving and caring. I realized the man was a saint after telling me a story that I’ve never forgotten.
“The 1958 season wouldn’t have been as special had it not been for the boys from Shady Valley,” said Arnold. “They sacrificed a lot to play.
Seven boys from Shady were members of the team. Six of them were starters. Arnold and his wife, Maxine, made sure they were taken care of.
He drove them home on the bus every day after ball practice. He and his wife would board them on Friday nights after the game. Each one got a hot breakfast on Saturday before Coach took them home.
“They didn’t have a way home and sometimes it was late,” said Arnold. “So Maxine and I let them spend the night at our house. She would cook for them and make sure they all were taken care of. She loved those boys and they loved her. I think they loved her cooking more than anything.”
Coach had a motto. “Be good to kids and they’ll be good to you.” He never worried when they were at his place.
Arnold loved the outdoors and he loved to work. He had canned green beans, apples and tomatoes the day before I met him.
I sometimes use one of his stories that he told me when preaching.
Arnold reminded me that Monday through Thursday were his work days. Fridays and Saturdays were his relaxation days and Sunday was the Lord’s day.
The four-day workweek sounded good but I liked even better that Sunday was a sacred day for him.
You would need the world’s largest tape measure to size up what this man meant to Johnson County.
The football field named in his honor will always be a reminder of what a great teacher and coach he was at JCHS.
But his memory will live on forever.