Every Day He Lived A Sermon

Great men are seldom thought so in their own time.

More often than not it is long after a great light has been extinguished that you are able to appreciate how much you were able to see by its radiance, and how you were comforted by its warmth.

I would like to tell you about one of the greatest men you’ve probably never even heard of, for he accomplished no great feats of athletic prowess or political gain. This was not a man of any great celebrity, save for that which is contained within a small town in rural Rusk County. His biography is not published among the annals of the profound thinkers or military leaders of human history. Flags were not lowered to half-staff nor did media outlets interrupt regular programming at his passing.

Aside from the fond sentiments of his relatives, as well as a sizable throng of former students and colleagues, this humble teacher passed into eternity with as little fanfare as he entered it nearly seven decades prior. Yet, for those who knew coach Chester Roy, he was a figure whose influence still lingers on since he died Dec. 8, 2005.

Of course, anyone who knew Coach Roy would also know just how he would have refused such effusive praise.

I can imagine his rebuke would be calm and yet resolute at the same time, for Coach Roy was not a man to mince words or to waste them in flowery soliloquies. He didn’t have to, his softest touch commanded the respect of generations of students at Overton Independent School District.

He came to Overton as a result of the gradual public school integration that took place across the South in the 60s and 70s and, during a time of no small racial tension, displayed a quiet grace that quickly endeared him to his students, his peers, and the community.

Coach Roy would stay for nearly forty years as an educator of young people and molder of young men. He coached every varsity and junior varsity sport, in addition to teaching Health and Driver`s Education in the high school. Not only that, he was also in charge of P. E. classes for all the junior high and elementary grades.

As for me, I can recall him teaching a certain skinny freckle-faced freshman how to tie a “four-in-hand” and a “Windsor” knot for when the football players had to dress for Friday pep rallies with the same dutiful attention that he extolled me to keep my “head up and butt down” when I tackled a ball-carrier.

Coach Roy was a friend and mentor, who seldom had to punish his students in the conventional sense in lieu of a sober conversation. Indeed, it seemed a stern rejoinder from him was far more severe than any corporal punishment – and more effective. As wild and unruly a young man as I was, I would tuck in my shirt, sit up straight, and pay attention to Coach Roy.

He was family man, known for the dutiful affection he showed toward his wife of many years and the children of his house, each growing strong under his tender care…  to say nothing of the special relationship he kept with his former students.

Years later, I was glad to be able to introduce him to my children and to show him that I turned out decent. I can still remember the glowing smile upon his broad face and the warm embrace when I shared my testimony of Faith with him, which brings me to my next point…

Overarching all of this tribute, he was a Godly man. A longtime Deacon of New Hope Baptist Church, who never had to preach a sermon but lived one with every day of his life.

Whether it was leading his players before athletic contests in prayer, teaching the integrity of good sportsmanship as well as the virtues of endurance, or simply making sure we all went to church on Sunday – he never forgot his role and responsibilities as a minister and servant unto others.

I believe that one of the important marks of a truly great man is his humility.

Great men must know that whatever greatness they might possess is not of them, but through them. With this, they see something like a spark of the Divine in every other man, this glimmering latent potentiality, and are able to conduct themselves with a near-inexhaustible wealth of patience and mercy.

By this standard, I have met very few souls who so matched Chester Roy in greatness in the course of my thirty-odd years. Among the lights of the starry heavens are twinklings that have gone out ages ago, so too is it with the lives of men.


25 thoughts on “Every Day He Lived A Sermon

  1. Excellent representation for a very special person. I had the privilege of working with him for many years and I couldn’t have said it better myself. Chester Roy was indeed a sterling example of a Christian southern gentleman who taught by example and tried to make gentlemen of his charges as well as educate them.

    1. Excellent biography of Coach Roy, He was a great man and a wonderful person just inside and out. I ihink about him and his wonderful wife Jacqueline all the time. He will be greatly missed upon everyone and he will never be forgotten!!

  2. This is a very truthful yet beautiful article about Coach Roy. He was a very good man and I learned a lot from him. I sometimes think that he is watching down on us. He is truly missed.

  3. Nice, He was a great man and and wonderful teacher. I wish we could have him back to inspire my children as the progress through school. He taught my mom and her siblings, then me and my brother and is greatly missed.

  4. Matt, what a beautiful tribute to Coach Roy! Your piece is one of the most moving articles I have read. I, too, agree that Coach Roy was an extremely good influence on both the students and staff at Overton High School. I feel so priviledged to have worked with him. When he retired, the school lost one of the greatest teachers and human beings to ever have worked at OISD. He was one of the greatest, yet most humble, human beings it has ever been my privilege to meet and I will never forget him. Thank you for reminding us what a great man he was!

  5. Great article Matt! I couldn’t agree more with your portrayal of Coach Roy. He was one of the greatest men I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Of all the teachers ever to pass through Overton ISD, Coach Roy was the most kind and caring of them all. He was stern when he had to be, but genuinely cared about the students in his charge. And in turn, students at Overton GREATLY respected him for the man he was. I, for one, know the world is a better place because of Coach Roy. He is, and will always be, greatly missed.

  6. Yes, everyone is correct on what a GREAT guy Coach Roy was. My siblings an i are always talking about our days at OISD an what a wonderful influence he had on all of us. He is truly being missed an will forever live in our hearts.

  7. It was a difficult time for me when I realized that he was only human and not a superhuman. After all, his influence on my life has been tremendous. My desire to achieve, my will to succeed and to be the best person I can be.

    But only when I say his mortality did I truly understand how much strength it must have taken him to simply be a man and not a superman. Even now, four years post-mortem, I’m still thanking my Dad for being such a driving motivating force in our lives. Thank you for the tribute.

    ~A daughter’s love…

  8. This is truly a beautiful tribute. Coach Roy was a very special person in alot of our lives,he touched so many of us in the most positive ways. He is someone that is missed every day,but will always be in our hearts. When I think of COACH ROY,the famous words of BOOKER T. WASHINGTON comes to mind-
    Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.
    We all truly miss COACH ROY.

  9. Matt, I do not know you, but what a beautifully written sentiment for such an outstanding individual. Being one of his older pupils, I knew Coach Roy before ‘Coach’ was permanently attached to his surname. Indeed, he did become our Coach Roy. He was our Scout Master Roy as well. Coach Roy guided my class through the first four years at OISD high school. His strength propelled us through some tumultuous times. Coach Roy was one of the people in your life that you wanted to think well of you always. He taught us so much it’s impossible to capture in a brief statement, but after reading Matt’s tribute, I felt compelled to make a mini attempt. Thanks Matt for giving me this opportunity. He is missed.

  10. My God this has made my heart swell to the bursting point. You said that he was a molder of men but he was also a shaper of women. So many times in my life I can say that he shaped me into the distinguished woman that I am today. In the end I couldnt express in words what he did for me. I could only live the life of dignity and poise that he would expect any beautiful Christian woman to live. He would say to me “Little Yvonne, is that what a woman of God would do?” I can honestly say that I am now that woman of God that he saw so many years ago. My entire family was shaped by the words that he spoke to Larry and I when we were young. My husband is a direct line from him. All that he does in church now was from the teaching of this real deacon. I praise God for putting him in our lives. Thank you Matthew for this reminder and this trip down memory lane. He will always be remembered.

  11. It was wintertime 198?, um, never mind the year 🙂 Any way, I’ll never forget that day and what he taught me. It was freezing, I didn’t have a coat, and I couldn’t keep my teeth from chattering. As Coach Roy walked by he stopped, smiled and patted me on the shoulder. He said, “Mind-over-matter, Judy, if you want to be warm…think yourself warm”. He informed me that the coldness I was feeling was all in my head. If I was to close my eyes and picture myself in front of a hot burning fire my shivering would stop. I didn’t do it at first because I thought he was just making a wisecrack, but after he walked away I tried it and it worked! I still do that same thing today and every time I do, I think of Coach Roy and smile.
    I will never forget him. Thank you for reminding us what a great man he was!

  12. Judy,
    I don’t know you but your kind comments about my earthly father touches my heart as does the fond memories that only a daughter can possess…

    Thank you,

  13. Very very well said. I loved coach roy. I will never forget me and him sitting on a bench outside of locker room and him telling me he had coached my dad too and that to ALWAYS show respect to your elders. ….yes maam….no maam….yes sir….no sir. When I heard of his passing back in 05 I just sat there and thought that it couldn’t be true. Great men like him should be able to live for ever…..then it dawned on me that he does live forever thru each and everyone of us who teach our kids how coach roy taught us.

  14. Thanks for the well written article Matthew. Coach Roy was a precious man of God who was loved and respected by everyone I know. I wished for that patience he had with me (as well as the passenger side brake) when teaching my son to drive!

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