By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
It is only fitting that the road into and out of Houston Avery Park be renamed in honor of George Stewart Mosby.
The veteran educator, known locally as “Coach Mosby,” gained a high degree of notoriety as a teacher and football and basketball coach at Escambia County Training School but was even more widely known for the four-plus decades he gave of himself to help guide the community’s youth.
Atmore Municipal Court Judge Karean Reynolds was one of five city officials who took part in the April 25 dedication ceremony of Coach George Mosby Drive, which represented a renaming of the city roadway formerly known as Park Drive. Reynolds said the former youth mentor is finally getting the recognition he deserves.
“As a kid growing up in Atmore in the 1980s and 1990s, Houston Avery Park was the place to be, and Coach Mosby ran the park, not just the pool,” said Reynolds, who is also the District 5 representative on the Escambia County Commission. “Kids from all throughout the community — from Sunset Drive to Liberty Street to Patterson Street, wherever — traveled to this park and knew it was the hangout spot. Coach Mosby was a staple of this community, and you have done him justice by naming this street after him.”
Tovjivanese Grissett Wilkerson stood in as emcee for Yellow Hats Society President Lillie Johnson, who suffers from a knee problem. Wilkerson also recalled her encounters with Mosby as a child.
“I still remember him being a staple in this park and a staple for our youth,” she said. “This is such a great opportunity for us to be able to honor him and to honor all the things he did, not just for the community, but for education in general.”
Johnson said the group petitioned the city council to rename the street because “it was time.”
Mayor Jim Staff called Mosby a “remarkable man” who “put all his heart into his community” and “touched the life of everybody who knew him,” and Mayor Pro Tem Shawn Lassiter, who “hadn’t had the privilege of knowing Coach Mosby,” said, based on what he’s been told, “(Mosby’s) contributions to our community were many, and I am honored to take part in naming this road, where he spent countless hours, ‘Coach Mosby Drive’.”
After The Rev. Willie Hawthorne, pastor of Greater Mt. Triumph Baptist Church, sang an a capella version of Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings,” City Clerk Becca Smith read a proclamation including that Mosby, who was inducted into the Atmore Area Hall of Fame in 2008 and died in 2014 at age 90, also volunteered with other organizations, including Atmore Area Christian Care Ministries and the American Red Cross.
But the volunteerism that led to the road renaming was based primarily upon the “countless hours of many summers of his life with the young people in the community, at the park.”
District 2 City Councilman Jerome Webster also spoke briefly, calling the street dedication “a historic event” that gave him “great pleasure.”
As a coach at ECTS, Mosby’s football teams posted a record of 112-50 over his 20 year of tutelage. His basketball squads were just as successful, winning 110 of 150 games over 12 years. Four times he earned Coach of the Year honors.
The strongest remarks and deepest emotions were evoked by Daryl Mosby, the coach’s youngest son, who drove from Atlanta to attend the ceremony and to speak on behalf of the family.
“We truly are honored and humbled that you all would do this for our father; we are truly blessed,” he said, mentioning the Yellow Hats Society, which sponsored the request that led to the renaming of the thoroughfare, as well as the mayor and council and many others. “I am touched. We just can’t say ‘thank you’ enough as a family.”
He also pointed out that his father was a modest man who never sought acclaim for his good works and was also a man who loved his hometown.
“The only thing I can say about my father is, he was a good man,” Mosby said. “He was very civic minded and would do anything for anybody. He loved the Lord, he loved his church [Gaines Chapel AME], he loved people, he loved being an educator, and he loved coaching. I know if he was here, he would probably say he was proud and humbled, and he would also probably say, ‘you didn’t have to do this for me.’
“He truly loved Atmore; this was his home. As he got older, I tried to get him to come live with me in Atlanta. He would tell me no, that he loved his town, that this is where he wanted to be until the day he died. The Good Lord saw fit for him to do that.
“We miss him, as well as mom [Mary Mosby], and I wish he could be here to accept this honor. But he’s gone on to be with the Lord, so I will accept it on behalf of the family.”
After the program, those in attendance walked from the Progressive Civic & Recreation Club headquarters to the junction of Martin Luther King Drive and Coach George Mosby Drive, where the new street name was unveiled. They then enjoyed fellowship, along with refreshments prepared by members of the Yellow Hats Society.