Witnessing incredible patience at public event
On Monday, July 28, at noon, Kitty and I gathered, with approximately 1,200 others for the ribbon cutting and grand opening of the basketball museum in the Raleigh County community of Artie, W.Va. The unbelievable museum occupies the old post office building that was the common anchor for the community and its three churches in that immediate area.
The greatest sports legend in all of West Virginia, Jerry West, played high school basketball at East Bank, the school I attended during my sophomore and junior years. I saw the talented star Clyde "Hard Times" Green and John Massey play there. Green became a basketball star at West Virginia University.
I was in the same junior high school at Leewood with other East Bank stars like Adele Joseph and Dallas Pratt. When I was in the 8th grade, I was the number six man on the team which included Billy Jack Finley, Tommy Curry, Frank Hopkins and "Red" Jeffers. It was a good junior high team.
My first game, was against Cedar Grove and I scored 10 points as did Roy Brown, who became one of my all-time best friends as did Dick Coble, who played at Ward and excelled in baseball at East Bank and West Virginia Tech. In later years, I baptized him at the Teays Valley Church of God and later conducted his funeral in Charleston.
At Leewood Junior High School I played on the first two teams Bill Armstrong, a St. Albans native, ever coached. Coach Armstrong, after my ninth grade year, went to California where at Compton High School and Palm Springs High School, he won numerous championships and coached many basketball players who played on big time college and professional teams in the National Basketball Association. He was often referred to as "The Johnny Wooden" of high school basketball. Coach Armstrong and Coach Wooden were good friends.
Participating in the dedication of the Artie Museum, was Willie Akers, another legendary basketball player of our state and a close friend and teammate of Jerry West when they both played on the same teams of West Virginia University. Judge Jim Holliday, father of Marshall's "Doc" Holliday, was also a resident of Logan, W.Va., where Willie lived.
At the dedication of the Artie Museum I was impressed early on by the patience and calm demeanor of Jerry West. He was dressed and behaved as the perfect gentleman throughout his four hours or more in Artie.
On the way back home, I remarked to Kitty how patient Jerry and Willie, and their spouses, seemed to be with everyone they met. A good trait for those who want to succeed in basketball or any other sport.
One of my favorite Old Testament Psalms bears this testimony, "I waited patiently for the Lord, And He inclined to me, and heard my cry" (Psalm 40:1). We may all learn from the passage in Psalm 37:1-31.
Thank you Jerry and your lovely Karen for your tremendous kindness with hundreds of us who wanted to be near you for just a minute.
Bill Ellis can be reached at P.O. Box 345, Scott Depot, WV 25560; phone 304-757-6089.
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