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Henry honored
Farragut Middle School gym named for longtime coach, educator

With family looking on behind him, Bobby Henry — holding the plaque inscribing the official declaration of Farragut Middle School gym now being named “Bobby J. Henry Gymnasium” — listens as FMS principal Heather Karnes reads a proclamation.- Alan Sloan/farragutpress
With praise being heaped upon Bobby Henry among scores of admiring former students and players in Farragut Middle School gym, the 74-year-old FMS physical education teacher and ex-coach often looked up and pointed skyward.

“It’s Jesus,” Henry said about attributing the reason for his coaching-teaching success and influence, most of which has taken place at FMS dating back to 1963, after a ceremony naming the school’s gym “Bobby J. Henry Gymnasium” Thursday, Jan. 26.

“I’ve had a 90 to 95 percent positive experience here at Farragut,” Henry added. “It’s very, very humbling. You’re almost speechless.”

A laundry list of Henry’s accomplishments at Farragut schools for almost 50 years was read to the enthusiastic gathering, which included wife, Shirley, and 4-month-old great-granddaughter, Autymn Shay Henry.

FMS principal Heather Karnes read a town of Farragut proclamation from Mayor Ralph McGill declaring Friday, Jan. 27, as “Bobby Henry Day” in Farragut.

“We have the opportunity tonight to recognize an individual who has touched the lives of no doubt thousands: thousands of students, athletes, colleagues, friends, family and other members, both past and present, of the community that is Farragut Middle School,” FMS assistant principal Rich Fulford announced to the gathering.

Danny Vest, a student and player under Henry in the mid-1980s, and Derek Wright (mid-1990s under Henry) initiated the effort to have the gym named in Henry’s honor, with Karnes’s blessing, early last year.

“About a year ago I came to see him and I walked in the gym, and I thought, ‘I can’t believe this gym’s not named after him,’” Vest said.

“Bobby Henry’s a well-known icon in this area,” Vest added. “He’s a Christian man, and the kids respect him and love him. He’s just a role model for people, that’s the bottom line.”

One Henry quote remains etched in Vest’s memory. “No mercy asked, no mercy given,” Vest said. “‘Nothing can be given to you, you’ve got to earn it. And you’ve got to work hard to get it.’ And that’s kinda how I took it when I was growing up.”

Danny Stone (mid-1980s at FMS) also played football under Henry on the Farragut High School freshman team. “You knew he was a good man just by his actions; loving and kind,” Stone said. “Just an all-around good guy.”

Karnes said a roughly 12-square-foot plaque would be mounted above the gym’s entrance proclaiming “Bobby J. Henry Gymnasium.”

Vest praised Thomas Deakins, Knox County Board of Education District 6 representative who previously represented Farragut schools, for spearheading a change in county policy allowing the gym to be named in Henry’s honor: non-retired educators can now be honored with school naming rights.


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