Walking into Dee Faircloth’s office in the Vidalia gym was always entertaining.
And not just because of the stories.
Faircloth had every all-district team since he started coaching on the left wall.
On the right wall, was a big poster of the Three Stooges in old football gear with Curley laying on the ground, Larry holding the football and Moe ready to kick.
In 1992, I finally got the courage to ask Coach Faircloth if there was any way we could re-create that poster with him and his coaches.
Since there were four, I told Coach Faircloth he could stand behind pointing.
The coaches were Tommy Lanius, Johnny Lee Hoffpauir and Tim Herndon.
Needless to say, Herndon was all in. Just like in everything he did.
So I had Lanius laying down, Herndon holding the football and Hoffpauir ready to kick. That really had to make Lanius nervous.
I put that picture on Facebook in 2012.
On April 28, that picture was shared about a dozen times. That was the day Tim Herndon died.
The comments and likes showed how much Herndon was loved.
But you didn’t need that to know how well respected and loved Tim Herndon was.
I first got to know Tim when he helped keep stats for the South Natchez baseball team. Tim would join me in that ancient press box many a night, swapping all kinds of stories.
In 1987, Tim took a teaching and coaching position at Vidalia High.
I did a story on Tim retiring from Vidalia High last year.
And, typical Tim, it was more about the people around him.
Tim lived less than a mile from me. I would find him outside when I was heading town or across the river many times, working on his yard or playing with the kids.
And he always had that big smile and big wave.
Tim was well known for assisting with the superb Veteran’s Day program at Vidalia High, as well as leading Vidalia High students in the Partridge in a Pear Tree rendition in the Vidalia High gym, literally sprinting from one end of the gym to the other leading each class in their portion of the song.
Tim’s reading of how to fold a flag during the Veteran’s Day program was always one of my favorite parts.
Also typical Tim, he took it in stride that he wasn’t able to have a proper send-off last year because of COVID-19
Herndon said it will probably hit him in August that he will not be going back to Vidalia High.
“But that’s the good thing about having another job,” he said about working with Cecil Parker as an ag consultant. “I will stay busy with it. I’m not the type of guy who just likes sitting around not doing anything.”
And he always enjoyed working out.
“He even ran from his classroom to the bathroom and back again,” Hoffpauir said.
Tim’s passion for teaching certainly did not go unnoticed.
He was the 2009 Vidalia Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year, and was also named Teacher of the Year by Wal-Mart, receiving a $1,000 award to spend on class supplies.
Herndon also was an assistant football coach at Vidalia High for 11 years and was a coach for the Vidalia High baseball team for 19 years, including one year as a head coach.
That one year as head coach was tough on Tim. He didn’t apply, but when it got around to December and no coach had been named, Tim took it for the players.
He stayed head coach one year.
Being a head coach can be a thankless job. Especially when you cannot please everyone.
‘“Tim was a buffer between me and the players,” Hoffpauir said. “The players always enjoyed talking to him. He was perfect for that job.”
Tim helped Hoffpauir for years with the Vidalia baseball program. When Hoffpauir retired, Tim took over as head coach of the Vikings in 2011 -- for a year.
By the end of that year, he was ready to hang coaching up.
But he certainly had no regrets.
“I have been part of a lot of great stuff and been around a lot of great people,” he said. “I’ve worked with a lot of fantastic players and parents. A lot of my former players have ended up being my best friends. And, of course, I was blessed to coach along a Hall of Fame coach in Dee Faircloth, who made it all fun, and alongside Johnny Lee Hoffpauir, who was such a great coach.”
One of the last things Tim told me was, ““I certainly have no regrets or complaints. It has been a great run. I have been able to work with so many great people in my lifetimer.”
It was a great run by a great and humble man. It was just way too short.