15 years have flown by.  There are no words to describe how much I miss you... Rest In Peace, Dad.

A Tribute To Our Dad...

In Rememberance...
Tommy Dean Runyon

April 28, 1936 - December 14, 2000

Tommy Dean Runyon was born April 28,1936 to Thomas B. and Loena (Gray) Runyon of Beflry, KY. He was the second youngest of five children; twins Dorothy Mae and Doris Marie, Virginia Lee, Tommy Dean, and Jerry Bruce.

In September 1956 he married his high school sweetheart, Mary Ibba Bevins, the youngest daughter of Willie and Pina (Stanley) Bevins of Turkey Creek, KY. Tommy Dean and Mary had four children; Renee Deanise, Roderic Dodd, Courtney Lynn, and Tommy Dean II.

Coach Runyon...

sometimes it seems that Dad's whole life revolved around sports in one way or another, especially Belfry Pirate Sports. From Belfry High Assistant Football coach beginning in 1963 (under the late, great Bear Vipperman), to Pirate Head Basketball coach from 1977-1987, and Head Baseball coach, and even Golf coach (when it was around). The roundball Pirates went 197-101 and won the District Championship 8 out of the 10 years of Dad's tenure. He was selected as the Williamson Daily News All-Area Coach of the Year twice.

He also coached grade school sports in the early stages of his teaching career at South Williamson Elementary School from 1956 to 1963 and then again later he coached while my brothers played.  Dad was named the first principal at the then "new" Varney Elementary School in 1969 where he coached on both the football and basketball squads. He even coached the Pike County All-Stars to 2 wins in the Pike County/Mingo County All Star Game.

And if he wasn't coaching he was involved in some way or another. He was named Most Valuable Player of the Coalfields Baseball League in 1964, played slow-pitch softball on the "Belfry Insurance" team, umpired in the Williamson slow-pitch league, was a certified football official for 12 years, a certified basketball official and approved baseball official for 27 years, hosted basketball camps and intramurial leagues while head coach of the Pirates, played golf, bowled, or was simply just a spectator. He even made us watch the Chinese Little League World Series with him; a torture we would not let him forget.

To say Dad loved sports would be a huge understatement.

But before he was COACH he was....
a "proud Pirate" (#32)

(already wearing the Pirate gear!)

He attended Belfry Grade School from 1942 through 1950, graduating from Belfry High School in 1954 ranking 17th in a class of 132. He was named to the 57th District "All District" team twice, for the years 1953 and 1954.

He's also been...
"Teacher", "Principal", "Assistant Principal", and "Athletic
Director", even "KHSAA Region 15 Assigning Secretary"
and "Pike County Board of Education Member, District 6".

Dad started his teaching career at South Williamson Elementary School in 1956 with only 2 years of College; he taught 7th and 8th grade for 7 years. He graduated from Pikeville College, Pikeville, Kentucky, in 1961 with an A.B. Degree in Secondary Education; with a major in History and a minor in English, later adding a minor in Physical Education. He played on the Pikeville College Bears basketball team for the 1954-1955 season.

He received his M.A. Degree in Physical Education in 1969 and his Rank I in 1974 with 37 hours above M.A. Degree having certification in Elementary and Secondary Principalship, certification in Supervision, and certification in Superintendency all from Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky.

He served 3 years as Assigning Secretary in Football for the 15th Region Athletic Association and 2 years as Assigning Secretary in Basketball for the 15th Region Athletic Association; and as Athletic Director at Belfry High School for 4 years. Dad also served on the Belfry High School Hall of Fame Committee, where he and my brother, Rod were inducted as a members on the same night.

When Dad retired in 1987, he had 31 years teaching experience in the Pike County School System, 8 of those years in administration, and certainly all of them involved in athletics.

He would go on to serve 4 years as a member of the Pike County Board of Education representing District 6.

Dad also managed the Hardy Pool, Hardy KY, for what seemed like forever; it was a regular summer routine for Rod, Courtney, and Tommy (and Mike) to spend summers  working at the pool.  Those were the good old days, for sure.

  • Selected to appear in 1971 Edition of "Community Leaders of America" in recognition of service to community and state.
  • Awarded certificate in appreciation for outstanding volunteer service to Project Head Start in 1974 in Pike County, Kentucky.
  • Award from American Cancer Society in appreciation for notable services in the Cursade to Conquer Cancer.
  • Had an article published in the "Coaching Clinic Magazine" entitled "Adjustments to the 1-3-1 Defense".
  • Certificate of appreciation from Saint Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, for volunteer work on behalf of crippled children.
  • Certificate of appreciation from the Kentucky State Department of Education.
Membership in Professional Associations
  • National Education Association (NEA)
  • Kentucky Education Association (KEA)
  • Pike County Education Association (PCEA)
  • Kentucky High School Education Association (KHSAA)
  • Kentucky High School Athletic Directors Association (KHSADA)
  • Kentucky Association for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (KAHPER)
  • National Council of English Teachers (NCET)
Membership in Civic Organizations
  • Lion's Club
  • Moose Lodge
  • Fraternal Order of Elks

But to us he's always been, just...

Dad at his very best...

...and we lost him at the age of 64 to esophageal cancer (EC). Way to early in our opinion (not that you're ever really ready to give them up).

Before Dad's diagnosis, we never gave our esophagus a second thought. Who did? And, we'd certainly never heard of esophageal cancer. Then it reared it's ugly head in our lives. EC is a serious form of cancer that starts in the inner layer of your esophagus, the 10-inch tube that connects your throat to your stomach.

Cancer of the esophagus is seldom cured unless it is discovered in it's earliest stages. Unfortunately, early EC has few, if any, symptons and it is often already in advanced stages before the diagnosis is made.

Regrettably, that's where we were with Dad.

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