Coach Chester Roy Stadium is going to be re-dedicated 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23 as work on the venue has now been completed. The stadium, named for former teacher and coach Chester Roy in a 2003 ceremony, was renovated as part of a $6.5 million bond issue that passed narrowly in 2009 and has only been opened to the public in recent weeks.
But school officials say now is the time to rededicate the facility and once again honor the life of the man who inspired and guided generations of Overton students. Roy’s widow, Mrs. Jackie Reddic Roy, will be a special guest of the event and family members will be in attendance as well.
“I hope to have as many coaches who worked with Coach Roy present on the field with the family,” said OHS principal Stephen DuBose. “Also, we’re inviting all of Coach Roy’s former players to be on the sideline during the ceremony […] we will have all former students of Coach Roy’s classes stand in the bleachers.”
Born April 6, 1936 in the Jamestown Community of Overton, Roy was a veteran of the U.S. Army as well as a graduate of Texas Southern and Stephen F. Austin University. A native of Rusk County he was a longtime member of New Home Baptist Church in Overton where he was a deacon and song leader.
“Coach Roy was a man of the highest character, he was someone who led by example as much as by instruction,” said C.R. “Coach” Evans who worked with Roy for more than 20 years, also serving as a pallbearer at his funeral. “But he was also a good friend and an excellent role model for his students.”
Roy began his career at Overton in 1966 following the forced integration of public schools in the Deep South. Despite entering a predominantly white community in a time of racial tension, he quickly endeared himself to the students, faculty, and entire community.
“Coach Chester Roy was a transformative figure,” said Pastor Ray E. Hawkins, an itinerant minister from Rusk County who has since retired to Houston. “He was extremely well-respected in both the black and white communities in the area, and all of his students respected him and trusted him implicitly […] his noble character and strong but peaceful bearing made any racial tension swiftly melt away before it could ever take root.”
Andrea Chiles also worked alongside Roy for most of his tenure and said it was a privilege to do so.
“Chester Roy was a sterling example of a Southern gentleman,” she said. “He was a Christian who taught by example and tried to make gentlemen of his charges as well as educate them.”
Former student Marie Sudweeks Lore said Roy’s affection and sincere concern for his students shone through.
“Coach Roy cared more about his students than just the curriculum,” she said. “He made us respect ourselves by having us tuck in our shirts, comb our hair, and sit up straight in class […] for that, we respected him and always tried to do our best.”
Roy retired from Overton ISD in 1995, after helping to guide the Mustang football team to a 13-2-0 record. A few years later, the stadium was named in his honor.
Overton native Daniel Croteau played multiple sports for Roy and said he treated his athletes firm but fair, taking seriously his role as a teacher and shaper of young people.
“Coach Roy was that one person that I never wanted to let down, mainly because I had so much respect and admiration for him,” he added.
Skipper Honeycutt served on the school board and made the initial motion to name the stadium in Coach Roy’s name.
“It is the thing I’m most proud of during my time on the school board,” he said. “He was such a great man.”
Roy passed away on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005 and is buried in New Home Baptist Church Cemetery just outside of Overton. Hundreds of family members, friends, colleagues, and former students attended his funeral.
For more information about this event, contact Overton High School principal Stephen DuBose at (903) 834-6145.