I.C. MURRELL — Thanks, Mr. Adams and Coach Williams for making PA great

Published 12:10 am Friday, September 13, 2019

Only a few days passed, if that long, since The Port Arthur News moved to Memorial Boulevard when a man named Levi Adams walked through the front door.

He was looking for a new hire who was introduced not quite a month earlier and invited him to lunch one day. The simple act of kindness caught the young man’s attention and helped give him a source of information on the history of Port Arthur.

Truth be told, Mr. Adams was a walking history book with stories not told enough.

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Decades ago, he had made his mark on the tennis community by winning two state championships for Lincoln High School. At one point early in his adulthood, he even organized a local club for African American players.

Mr. Adams’ story was just among the first of many told to the new guy in town. Equally as impressive is that of Dick Williams, a classmate of Adams who quarterbacked Lincoln’s football team to a state championship in the fall of 1954 and was high on the recruiting list of Grambling State coach Eddie Robinson. How often does a recruit get to have the man who would be the winningest college football coach (before John Gagliardi and Joe Paterno) staying the night at his house?

Just as Mr. Adams walked through the new newsroom right on time, so did A.W. Mumford at Southern. He somehow sold Williams’ mother on Southern and convinced her to send her son there.

The rest is history. Dick Williams became Coach Williams and impacted countless Lincoln Bumblebees in his 41 years coaching at his alma mater. Robinson — and, maybe more importantly Mumford — would be proud of the longevity.

Why it had to be within the same hour the reporter took his meal break, but on back-to-back days, he learned of two legendary Bumblebees leaving us is a question that will never be answered on Earth. Just five days before Coach died, the reporter shook his hand in the beautiful Lincoln auditorium.

What an honor just to meet a Port Arthur icon, and how honored must countless students and student-athletes have felt by being in his presence?

The same can be said about Mr. Adams. Four years of friendship can be short but so impactful.

Tall and fit, Mr. Adams’ presence, ability to connect and soft-spoken demeanor made Port Arthur a better place to live. The consensus is that Coach Williams did the same just by being … Coach.

Their stories have now been told, their voices have been heard and their places in history have been curated in the very building where one of them paid forward a kind act that went a long way.

Wow, what a handshake can do.

I.C. Murrell is the sports editor for The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at ic.murrell@panews.com.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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