Coach Robert “Bob” Stevens, the first handball inductee into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and retired high school coach who’s career spanned almost 30 years, died Friday, July 3, 2009, at Hospice Ministries in Ridgeland. He was 82.
Funeral services are 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, July 7, 2009, at First Baptist Church in Jackson with burial at Hazlehurst Cemetery. Visitation is today from 5-7 p.m. at Wright and Ferguson in downtown Jackson. One of four children, born in McComb to Stella Mozelle Lowe and Roland Hall Stevens, Bob grew up in Hazlehurst where he discovered his love for sports at Hazlehurst High School lettering in four sports including football, basketball, boxing and track. He then played sports at Copiah-Lincoln Community College and went on to served in the U.S. Navy. Later he graduated from Mississippi Southern College (now USM) in 1948 where he continued to excel in sports. His coaching career began as head football coach at Pass Christian High School in 1949 and head football coach at Meadeville High School from 1950-1955. In 1955, he joined Central High School in Jackson as their head basketball coach, a position he kept until 1960 when he took over as head football coach from 1960-1971. He finished his coaching career at Murrah High School in Jackson in 1976. There he served as head football coach and head golf coach.
Among his many accomplishments during his coaching career include Big 8 Football Coach of the Year (1961), City of Jackson Football Champions (1962, 72, 73), Hub Bowl Football Champions (1965) and Mississippi Bowl Football Champions (1968, 69). He also was the head coach for the North Allstar Championship team in 1966.
His handball career spanned more than two decades where he was Mississippi State Closed Single Champion (6 of 10 years); Doubles Champion, Southeastern Doubles Master Champion and Golden Masters Double Champion. He taught handball classes at the Jackson YMCA for several years and handball clinics at both Ole Miss and Mississippi State. He was inducted into the Southern Mississippi Athletic Hall of Fame in 1987, the Copiah-Lincoln CC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995, the Mississippi Association of Coaches Hall of Fame in 1995, and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2003. An avid Southern Miss Sports fan, he was a long-time member of the YMCA. After retiring from coaching, he opened and operated “The Sandwich Board” in downtown Jackson for several years. But more than anything else, Bob was proud to be a father and a grandfather. He was a long time member of First Baptist Church Jackson.
He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings, Margaret Nell, Roland and Christene.
Survivors include: daughter, Karlynne Stevens Wood and her husband, Gene Wood; daughter, Misti Stevens Sims and her husband, Clint Sims; and grandchildren, Payton Wood, Bailey Wood and Lowe Sims.
In lieu of flowers, the family request that donations be made to the Bob Stevens Memorial Scholarship Fund, Southern Mississippi Athletics c/o Athletic Foundation, 118 College Drive P.O. Box 5017, Hattiesburg, MS 39406.